April 10, 2006

US backs proposed NATO role in Darfur: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States backs a proposal
to send several hundred NATO advisers to support the African
Union peacekeeping mission to halt violence in Darfur, The
Washington Post reported on Monday.

Citing unidentified Bush administration officials, the
newspaper said the move under consideration calls for fewer
than 500 NATO advisers, including some U.S. troops, to be
assigned to African Union headquarters


The AU's 7,000 poorly equipped troops in Sudan's western
province of Darfur have been unable to stop violence in which
tens of thousands of people have died and 2 million have fled
in the last three years.

The NATO forces would assist in logistics, communications,
intelligence and other areas but would not intervene on the
ground in Darfur, the officials told the Post.

The proposed deployment is intended as an interim measure
until a larger UN force, with a broader mandate than the
African Union force can be sent, the newspaper said.

However, UN officials and diplomats told Reuters that
sending in any Western military advisors would be difficult
without a major diplomatic offensive.

There has not been approval from NATO yet and the Sudan
government has objected to a UN force, particularly one that
has U.S. or European military personnel.

The African Union, under pressure from its Arab members,
many of whom back Khartoum, has been hesitating in folding in
its forces into a UN operation, despite earlier commitments.

And Western advisors on equipment given to the African
Union to date have been forced to do training outside of
Darfur, Juan Mendez, the UN special envoy for the prevention of
genocide, said at a Friday news conference.

Jan Pronk, the UN representative for Darfur, told
Netherlands Radio last week that mentioning NATO was like
waving a red flag to the Muslims in Sudan and elsewhere.