EU Exerts Pressure on Sudan Asks for UN Sanctions

BRUSSELS (AFP)–The foreign Ministers from all the European Union (EU) member states asked the Security Council of the United Nations (UN)–on Monday–to impose sanctions against Sudan over its failure to take action to end conflicts in Darfur region.

EU foreign ministers–while welcoming a partial improvement in aid access to the western region–expressed "dissatisfaction that the government of Sudan has not implemented the other most urgent obligations" it faces.

"There is no indication that the government of Sudan has taken real and provable steps to disarm and neutralize the armed militia–including the Janjaweed," they said in a statement.

"There are continuing reports about massive human rights violations by the armed militia–including the Janjaweed–including systematic rape of women," they added.

Given unsatisfactory cooperation by Khartoum–"the Council (of EU ministers) appeals to the (UN Security Council) to pass a resolution with a view to taking further actions–including imposing sanctions–in case the government of Sudan does not immediately fulfill its obligations and commitmen’s," they said.

The conflict in Darfur began in February 2003 with a rebel uprising against Khartoum–protesting that the largely black African region had been ignored by the Arab government of the oil-rich state.

In response–the pro-government Janjaweed and other militias went on the rampage–carrying out what aid and rights groups have called a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The conflict has claimed up to 50,000 lives and about 1.2 million have been displaced–with around 200,000 people taking refuge in neighboring Chad–according to UN officials.

Prospects of foreign intervention have grown–with Britain and Australia saying they would send troops for a UN-mandated force and the United States lodging a draft UN resolution calling for sanctions against Khartoum if it does not act to end the bloodshed soon.

The US Congress passed a resolution last week describing as "genocide" the atrocities committed in Darfur. THREATS USELESS ACCORDING TO SUDAN FM

But Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail–who met with EU officials in Brussels over the weekend said the situation cannot be called Gonocide.

"It is a humanitarian crisis provoked by fighting which is not our fault. . . the Sudanese government did not start the fighting," he told the Belgian daily De Staandard.

He added that international "threats" would not help–and urged the European Union to be "balanced" in its statemen’s. "We don’t need any threats or sanctions."

"Sometimes threats and pressure … will have negative effects," he added.

"I urge the EU to be balanced in their statemen’s so that the rebels will not misunderstand that they do not need to be serious with the cease-fire and the political settlement," Ismail said.

The UN has demanded that the Sudanese government rein in Arab militias behind the bloodshed in the Darfur region.

But has stopped short of fixing a deadline for Khartoum to honor pledges to disarm the Janjaweed militias.

Sudan at the weekend warned it would use force against any attempt at outside military intervention in Darfur–while rebels called for the quick arrival of foreign troops.

Sudan has meanwhile asked Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi to sponsor peace talks to bring an end to 18 months of bloodshed in the troubled region–according to the official Libyan news agency JANA.

A Sudanese ministerial delegation on Sunday delivered the message from President Omar al-Beshir–the agency said.

Libya–which lies to the north of the Darfur region–earlier this month announced the creation of a humanitarian corridor to Sudan and Chad to bring help to those displaced by the fighting.

On Monday an envoy of Pope John Paul II–who has just returned from a four-day visit to Sudan–added the Vatican’s voice to the growing calls on Sudan to cooperate with the international community to resolve the crisis.

Aid agencies in Chad warned on Monday that seasonal heavy rains were further hampering efforts to bring aid to refugees in remote eastern areas who fled fighting in Darfur.

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