July 20, 2006

Bush urges Sudan to allow UN Darfur mission

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush called on
Sudan on Thursday to allow a United Nations peacekeeping
presence to help stem the violence in Darfur.

Tens of thousands have been killed and 2.5 million people
forced into camps during three years of rape, murder and
pillage in Darfur in lawless western Sudan.

The United States, the European Union and the United
Nations are pressing Sudan to allow a U.N. mission to replace
an ill-equipped African Union force. Khartoum had repeatedly
rejected that, likening it to a Western invasion.

"Our strategy is that we want A.U. forces to be
complemented and blue-helmeted. In other words, the United
Nations should be invited in," Bush told reporters after a
meeting with Salva Kiir, vice president of Sudan.

The conflict in Darfur erupted in 2003 when mostly non-Arab
tribes took up arms, accusing the Arab-dominated government of
neglect. Khartoum retaliated by arming mainly Arab militia,
known as Janjaweed, who began a campaign of violence.

In the meeting with Kiir, Bush also pledged U.S. help in
implementing the peace deal that ended southern Sudan's war.

Kiir became Sudan's first vice president last year under a
deal between the north's ruling National Congress Party and
former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement to end more
than two decades of fighting.