BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – Javier Solana, the European Union”s security affairs chief, headed for Sudan Friday for talks with the government about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
Solana is scheduled to make a quick visit to the western Sudanese region where the EU supports an African peacekeeping mission.
He is scheduled to return Sunday after a stopover in Chad for talks with President Idriss Deby who has accused Sudanese militias involved in the Darfur conflict of making raids into his country.
Before leaving, Solana said he will also discuss the implementation of a Jan. 9 peace deal that ended a North-South civil war after more than two decades in Sudan.
In the separate Darfur conflict rebels from black African tribes took up arms in early 2003, complaining of discrimination and oppression.
They accuse the government of unleashing Arab tribal militia known as the Janjaweed against civilians in a campaign of murder, rape and arson that has already claimed the lives of 180,000 people, many from hunger and disease, and displaced 2 million others.
In Khartoum on Saturday, Solana will meet Sudanese President Omer el-Bashir and two vice-presidents, Ali Osman Taha and Salva Kiir Mayardit.
The EU has set aside a total ¤570 million (US$687 million) in response to the Darfur crisis, mostly for humanitarian aid, and has also send military advisers and logistical support to the African Union”s peacekeeping mission.
Sudan”s government and Darfur rebels are locked in peace talks, sponsored by the African Union, that are making no progress.
This week, the non-governmental International Crisis Group said this will not change if divisions remain between the main rebel groups.
"No marked progress toward a lasting, comprehensive solution will be made unless the key figures in these rebel movements return to Darfur and organize broad-based conferences to resolve their leadership disputes," the ICG said in a report on Darfur.
"Khartoum will exploit their weaknesses at the negotiating table, and they will find themselves increasingly isolated," it added. "A deadly conflict has been growing between the rebel groups (that has put civilians in an increasingly desperate situation."
The EU supports a Darfur peacekeeping operation by the African Union with trucks, planes and other logistical help such as command planning, surveillance and housing. Accompanying Solana were Lord Triesman, Britain”s minister for African affairs, and Austrian Deputy Foreign Minister Hans Winkler.