Sarkozy, Brown ready to go to Darfur

20th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 20, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday they hope to make a joint visit to Darfur to push for peace in the crisis-stricken Sudanese region.

PARIS, July 20, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday they hope to make a joint visit to Darfur to push for peace in the crisis-stricken Sudanese region.

After meeting in Paris, the two leaders said France and Britain will send their foreign ministers to New York to back a resolution at the UN Security Council calling for an African Union and UN peacekeeping force.

"We will ask our ministers to take the same message. This message is simple: the situation cannot go on like this, it is a matter of urgency. People are dying and people are suffering. It has to stop," Sarkozy said.

"Once the UN resolution is passed we are prepared to go together to Darfur to make sure that the peace process is moving forward, and to send a message that we will play a part in economic reconstruction," said Brown.

But the prime minister also threatened further sanctions against the government of Sudan unless it heeds the will of the international community.

"We will be strong in saying that unless action is taken we will be prepared to consider as individual countries a toughening-up of sanctions that will put pressure on the regime to make the changes that are necessary," he said.

"This is one the great humanitarian disasters of our generation. It is happening even as we speak. It is incumbent on the whole world to act," Brown said.

In New York a draft resolution is being circulated which will authorise the dispatch of some 20,000 soldiers and police to deploy in Darfur. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he hoped for a vote this week.

According to UN estimates, at least 200,000 people have died from the combined effect of war and famine since the conflict erupted in February 2003. Two million are estimated to have been driven from their homes in Sudan and eastern Chad.

The civil war broke out when rebel groups complaining of marginalization by Khartoum launched a rebellion, which was brutally repressed by the Sudanese government and its proxy militia, the Janjaweed.

Efforts to end the four-year conflict by paving the way for new talks between the Sudanese government and fragmented rebel groups took a step forward on Monday at a meeting of key players in Libya.

France has taken a lead in international efforts to end the bloodshed, last month hosting a conference in Paris. 

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visited Sudan in early June, and Britain's International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander is currently in the country to assess the situation.

Friday's meeting between Sarkozy and Brown was their first since the two leaders took office recently.

They both expressed strong determination to work together on issues of common interest including Africa, terrorism and the environment.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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