Bush, Annan discuss peacekeeping force for Darfur

President George W. Bush and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreed on Monday to work with other nations to have a viable peacekeeping force in Sudan's Darfur region, but neither talked specifically about the a U.S. military role.

"I'm very happy that we have agreed to work together on the Darfur issue, working with other governments from Europe and Asia and other regions to ensure that we do have an effective security presence on the ground," Annan said after meeting with Bush at the White House.

Annan said last week that he would ask Bush for the United States to play a major role in a peacekeeping force in Darfur. Darfur's plight is too severe for rich nations to simply fund the mission while third world nations contribute troops, Annan said on Thursday.

But after his meeting with Bush in the Oval Office, Annan told reporters that it was too early to ask for U.S. military support because contingency planning is still being conducted.

"Once we've defined the requirements, then we approach the governments to see specifically what each of them will do in terms of troops, in terms of equipment," Annan said.

The United States currently pays about a quarter of the U.N. peacekeeping budget, which topped $5 billion (Ђ4.2 billion) in 2005, but provides a small percentage of troops or police.

"I think he (Bush) did agree that we need to get the right type of force on the ground and he's prepared to work with other countries and with me to make sure that we have the troops on the ground," Annan said, reports AP.

O.Ch.