UN promised an extra $200m for region of Darfur

United Nations Secretary-General &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/27/26682.html ' target=_blank>Kofi Annan starts a three-day trip to Sudan on Friday, during which he will visit the troubled region of Darfur.

On Thursday he told a donor conference in Ethiopia he was encouraged by pledges of support for the African Union monitoring mission in Darfur.

Donors promised an extra $200m (Ј110m) for peacekeeping in the region.

More than 180,000 people have died in Darfur, and some two million have been forced from their homes.

Mr Annan told delegates an epic relief effort would be needed if the conflict was not stopped, reports BBC News.

The African Union has asked for $723 million to finance and equip the Darfur operation, but was about $350 million short at the beginning of the conference.

The African Union's Peace and Security Commissioner Sa'id Djinnit tells VOA the meeting was also meant to build relations between the organization and its supporters.

"And, also it was an opportunity to bringing the partners together because we at the African Union believe that, while the AU is assuming its share of responsibility, it is important to build partnership, and that partnership has been quite forthcoming," he said.

Mr. Djinnit says the donors' response was what he calls really positive. He says there will be many follow-up meetings to coordinate contributions, but, he says, the African Union is confident that it will be able to expand its peace mission based on feedback and pledges given at the meeting.

The 53-member African Union has about 2300 troops to monitor a delicate cease-fire signed earlier by the Sudanese government and rebel groups operating in Darfur.

The pan-African organization is looking to triple the size of that peace support mission to more than 7,700 troops and has asked donors to help it do so.

Media reports indicate that the European Union and NATO have promised to train and transport troops.

Meanwhile, at the same meeting, African Union commission president &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2001/07/24/10816.html ' target=_blank>Alpha Oumar Konare announced that African Union-sponsored talks between the Sudanese government and rebels operating in Darfur would resume in Nigeria's capital June 10.

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