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Sweden confirms Darfur force

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Sweden confirms Darfur force
Photo: Rick Forsling - Försvarets Bildbyrå
13:16 CEST+02:00
Sweden and Norway have offered to send a joint engineering unit to support the United Nations' and African Union's force in the war-torn Sudanese province of Darfur.

The decision to send the 350-strong unit was announced on Friday in a press release from Sweden's Foreign Ministry. The announcement was widely expected. The Swedish troops will remain in the region for no more than a year. The force is due to arrive in Darfur by the end of the year.

"It is important for Norway and Sweden to support the UN in its peace promotion mission in Darfur. It is vital that progress is made in the political talks currently taking place between the parties in the conflict," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Störe said in a joint statement.

The total UN-African Union force will require 26,000 people, of which around 19,500 will be soldiers.

Alpha Oumar Konaré, chairman of the African Union's Darfur Commission, said in a statement on Sunday that the UN and AU could manage with only African troops. Konaré's statement has been treated with scepticism, as he did not say where the troops would come from. Another problem is Darfur rebel forces' distrust of their African neighbours.

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