August 29, 2006

U.S., Britain seek vote on UN troops for Darfur

By Opheera McDoom and Irwin Arieff

KHARTOUM/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and
Britain plan to push for a vote on a U.N. resolution sending
peacekeeping troops to Darfur, despite a fresh rejection by
Sudan on Tuesday of any deployment of U.N. troops there.

The U.S. and British sponsored resolution would authorize
the deployment of 20,000 U.N. troops and police in Darfur to
take over from some 7,000 African Union troops, who have been
unable to end bloodshed in the western Sudanese region.

Though the resolution, likely to be put to a vote on
Thursday, would state that Sudan would need to agree to the
deployment, it was expected to add pressure on Khartoum to drop
its opposition to U.N. peacekeeping troops.

"Our judgment here is that we think we've found a
formulation that would win acceptance on the (Security)
Council," U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters at the
United Nations.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Jendayi Frazer also made a fresh plea on Tuesday to Sudanese
President Omar al-Bashir to agree to U.N. troops, though her
meeting with him in Khartoum ended without any sign of

In Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey told
reporters Frazer had delivered a message from President George
W. Bush that Sudan needed to accept a U.N. force in Darfur.

"She made a very clear case of what U.S. policy is and he
certainly listened to what she had to say," he said.

Frazer canceled all meetings with the media, which one
Sudanese official said was because she had "nothing new to
report." She had waited nearly two days to meet Bashir.

Bashir on Tuesday reiterated his opposition to the
deployment of U.N. troops, instead praising the AU troops in
Darfur in a speech. "We are not calling for confrontation or
war but we are calling for peace and stability," he said.

His comments followed a decision by Sudan to boycott U.N.
Security Council talks on Monday on Darfur, where tens of
thousands of people have been killed and 2.5 million forced
from their homes since a revolt began in early 2003.


Sudan has likened the deployment of U.N. troops in Darfur
to a Western invasion that it says would attract militants and
cause an Iraq-style quagmire.

But analysts say Khartoum objects because it fears U.N.
troops would arrest any officials or militia leaders likely to
be indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Sudan has however already agreed to the deployment of U.N.
troops in southern Sudan monitoring a separate peace deal
there, raising hopes that it might eventually drop its
opposition to U.N. troops in the west of the country.

Security Council members China and Russia have
traditionally resisted any talk of imposing sanctions on
Khartoum to force it to accept U.N. troops.

Casey said Bashir would send an envoy to Washington to
reply directly to Bush's message, which according to one U.S.
official had included incentives if Sudan accepted a U.N.

Casey declined to comment on the contents of the message.

Despite a peace deal signed by one of three rebel
negotiating factions in May, violence has increased in Darfur.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland warned the
Security Council on Monday of the risk of fresh violence in
Darfur. "We may well be on the brink of a return to all-out
war," Egeland said, according to a text of his remarks.

(Additional reporting by Sue Pleming in Washington)