Sweden could send troops to Darfur

Sweden and Norway will consider sending a joint group to participate in the new peacekeeping force for Darfur that was approved by the UN, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Wednesday.

Bildt hailed as “excellent news” the unanimous decision Tuesday by the UN Security Council to authorise deployment of the 26,000-strong “hybrid” UN-African Union force in the strife-ridden Sudanese region.

“Together with Norway, we are looking into the possibilities of participating,” he said.

Sunniva Tofte, senior advisor at the Norwegian Defence Ministry told the Norwegian daily Dagbladet that the two countries planned to send a “common contribution of engineers.”

According to the paper, some 200 Norwegian engineers and military logistics coordinators could be sent around the New Year.

Denmark has also expressed its wish to contribute.

“Denmark will and should certainly participate in the mission. But it is too early to point out what the needs are, and what we will contribute with,” Danish Minister of Defence Sören Gade told the Danish news agency Ritzau.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday passed resolution 1769, mandating the new force, to take over peacekeeping in Darfur from 7,000 ill-equipped AU troops.

The Darfur conflict began in February 2003 when ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they consider decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government.