NATO: alliance`s first African mission

NATO defense ministers finalized plans Thursday for the alliance's first African mission, agreeing to fly 5,000 African peacekeepers to Sudan's troubled &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Darfur region.

The NATO ministers also pledged to deploy 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan for extra security before and during Sept. 18 parliamentary elections.

While the allies will fly African troops into Darfur - hopefully before the rains come in July - they stressed the African Union remained in charge of the peacekeeping operation. The African grouping has some 2,700 peacekeepers in Darfur, site of one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes, reports the Guardian Unlimited.

The European Union has a separate mission in Darfur, but &to=http:// ' target=_blank>NATO officials stressed there is no competition with the EU. Secretary-General Scheffer said that the needs of the people come first.

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