UN waters down Darfur statement

Security Council merely urges all parties to "meet their international obligations".

    Fighting in Darfur has forced hundreds of
    thousands into refugee camps [AP]

    The US statement urged the Sudanese government "to co-operate fully in ... the expeditious start-up and implementation of the UN-AU hybrid operation".
    But after lengthy discussions among council experts and ambassadors - some opposed to making any demands on Sudan - the council eliminated all references to the Sudanese government, which has not given a green light for the deployment of the hybrid force.
    Final statement
    The statement approved late on Friday even eliminated the welcome for the 39-page UN-AU report.
    The report proposed tripling the number of peacekeepers now in Darfur with a hybrid force of at least 23,000 soldiers and police allowed to launch pre-emptive attacks to stop violence.
    The presidential statement, read at a formal meeting by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador, the current council president, instead welcomed "the transmission" of the report outlining the AU-UN recommendations on the mandate and structure of the force and ongoing international efforts to support peace efforts in Darfur.
    Sudan's response
    Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the UN, met Abdelmahmood Abdelhaleem, Sudan's UN ambassador,  on Friday morning and handed him a copy of the report.
    Abdelhaleem said later that his government would study it.
    Despite the changes, Khalilzad called it "a good statement that not only welcomed this development but also called on the parties concerned, including the government of Sudan to observe its obligations".
    He then read the key sentence from the statement which says: "The Security Council further demands that all parties meet their international obligations; support the political process; end violence against civilians and attacks on peacekeepers; and facilitate humanitarian relief."


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