Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said on Sunday that Khartoum was grateful to the Arab League for its positive contribution in addressing the crisis.
“And we are looking forward to a direct Arab support to the African Union and to the AU forces in Darfur,” he added at a joint news conference with visiting Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa.
AU troops are monitoring a shaky ceasefire between Khartoum and Darfur’s rebel fighters, and last week international donors pledged almost $292 million in further aid for the AU mission.
But the body is looking for more than $460 million in cash, military equipment and logistical support to boost its current 2700-strong truce monitoring operation to more than 7700 by September.
Arab League tour
Mussa, who toured Darfur on Friday and Saturday and met AU officials there, indicated that the league “fully supports the African Union in its endeavours in Darfur”.
He said AU officials briefed him on the situation in the region and informed him that a semblance of calm was returning to certain areas of Darfur, particularly those where there was a visible AU presence.
Mussa’s visit to Darfur came
The Arab League chief returned to Khartoum after touring the Abu Shouk camp for displaced persons near El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.
“I cannot see any justification for [international] concentration on differences between the Arab and African tribes in Darfur,” he commented.
“We reject plans for driving a wedge between these two groups of tribes who are now mingling and intermarrying with each other,” Mussa added.
On Friday, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick also called for the deployment of additional AU troops to help secure peace in Darfur.
“The message we have is that where we have AU forces conflict doesn’t occur … and that’s one reason why a key element of the strategy is to expand the AU force presence,” he said.
But Zoellick also issued a stern warning to Khartoum to disarm the nomadic militias known as Janjawid that are accused of murder, torture, widespread rape and other human-rights abuses against the sedentary populations.
Some 2.4 million people have been made homeless by the conflict in which between 180,000 and 300,000 Sudanese have been killed.
A UN resolution last March demanded that alleged perpetrators of war crimes in Darfur, among them government officials, be tried by the International Court of Justice.
Khartoum strongly opposes that prospect.