Belgian foreign minister meets Gadhafi

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Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht is in Chad.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht is in Chad.

On his way he stopped in Libya for talks with the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. At the top of the agenda was the conflict in the border regions of Chad and Sudan. European peacekeeping troops are going to the border area soon to protect the refugees from Dafur.

Belgium is sending 70 soldiers to do reconnaissance work, and build shelters and infrastructure for the EU troops. Karel De Gucht  is trying to assess the risks for the Belgian and other EU soldiers. Libya warns that the rebels in Chad will see the European troops as pro-regime.

Karel De Gucht thinks it is very important for the EU troops to clearly emphasise that they are independent in this conflict, independent from the French troops that are there and independent from the regime in Djamina.

"The task of the EU peacekeepers is to protect the refugees- NOT to intervene in the power struggle- to protect the refugees in the refugee camps," stresses Karel De Gucht, adding, "And this is difficult enough, given that the camps have been infiltrated by the rebels."

The Belgian soldiers are due to leave for Chad this week.

A total of some 4000 European military personnel are being sent to Chad and the Central African Republic. They will protect the refugees in the border area with Sudan. The EU operation is due to last until March 2009.

The EU Foreign Ministers gave the go-ahead to deploy peacekeepers to Chad and CAR in January.

In a statement, the EU ministers said the aim of the mission is to, "Contribute to the protection of civilians in danger, particularly refugees and displaced persons." The mission also aims to streamline delivery of humanitarian aid. 

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