French FM presses Sudan on Darfur issue

KHARTOUM, Jun 11, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner pressed Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on the issue of the troubled western Sudanese region of Darfur when meeting with him on Monday.

Following their meeting, Kouchner told reporters that "We understand the position of the Sudanese government which wants the Darfur file to remain in the hands of the African Union, but our position is clear, and it is that the international society can not stay outside and look on with folder arms a problem like the Darfur issue."

He termed the talks with the president as "extremely difficult. "

According to the official SUNA news agency, the president said the international society should "refrain from sending negative signals or adopting attitudes that would encourage the non- signatories of the peace agreement to act against peace."

While the French foreign minister told reporters that al-Bashir and other Sudanese leaders are not "correctly understanding the fact that public opinion takes interest in Darfur and wants the massacres to end."

Al-Bashir asked the international community "to support the endeavors to guarantee good living conditions of the people in Darfur, and to boost the voluntary return of the displaced people and refugees to their home areas in the region," according to the report.

Al-Bashir also called for the completion of the Darfur Peace Agreement, which was signed by the Sudanese government and a main rebel faction in May last year, by putting pressure on the rebel movements that refused to sign the agreement so as to sit for peace negotiations.

The French foreign minister arrived in Khartoum on Sunday on a two-day visit in Sudan, during which he held meetings with the Sudanese president, Foreign Minister Lam Akol as well as other senior officials.