The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
The Secretary-General welcomes the news that NATO and the European Union will be airlifting African Union peacekeepers into Sudan's Darfur region -- something he has strongly advocated and sought to facilitate over the last six months or more. He believes this assistance will help to ensure the timely expansion of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), looks forward to additional practical support, and encourages donor countries to make good on the pledges given at the conference which he co-chaired with AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré in Addis Ababa on 26 May.
The Secretary-General also welcomes the long-awaited resumption of the negotiations in Abuja between the Government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement on a political settlement of the Darfur conflict. He urges all parties to make full use of these talks, under the able mediation of AU Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim, so that an early political settlement to the conflict may be concluded. The Secretary-General emphasizes that lasting security for the people of Darfur can only be based on a negotiated resolution of the conflict.