E.U. Threatens Sanctions On Sudan if Crisis Persists
By Paul Geitner
Monday, July 26, 2004; Page A16
BRUSSELS, July 25 -- The European Union joined the United States in threatening sanctions against Sudan, hoping to pressure its government to end the conflict in its western region of Darfur.
Citing "grave concern" at reports of massive human rights violations that some have called genocide, E.U. ministers were scheduled to meet Monday in Brussels to push the Sudanese government and rebel groups to resume peace talks and improve access by relief groups to those displaced by the violence.
"It's almost certain the international community will take further measures if this situation does not improve," said Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, whose country holds the rotating E.U. presidency, after meeting his Sudanese counterpart, Mustafa Osman Ismail.
On Sunday, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell agreed in a phone call that Sudan should face international sanctions unless it quickly disarms Arab militias responsible for the killings.
The violence began more than 16 months ago when two rebel groups from Darfur's African tribes took up arms in a struggle over land and resources with Arab countrymen. Arab militias known as Janjaweed then began a brutal campaign to drive out the black Africans.
As many as 30,000 people, most of them black Africans, have been killed and more than 1 million people have fled their homes. About 2.2 million are in urgent need of food or medical attention, aid groups have said.
The 25-nation European Union, the United States and humanitarian groups have accused the Sudanese government of backing the militias -- a claim it denies.
Peace talks in Ethiopia last week ended early when Darfur's rebel groups walked out, insisting that Sudan's government first honor the terms of previous agreements.
After meeting Bot in The Hague, Sudan's foreign minister insisted that his country would prosecute the militias but again denied that the attacks amounted to genocide.
In Washington, the House and Senate passed resolutions last week characterizing the violence in Darfur as genocide.
Pope John Paul II urged the international community on Sunday to help end the Darfur conflict, saying it "brings with it ever more poverty, desperation and death."
By the end of the year, the United Nations plans to send a peacekeeping mission to Darfur, a region the size of Iraq with a population of 6.7 million. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Sunday that his country likely would contribute troops to the force. The African Union is sending 300 troops and 150 unarmed observers.
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