Denmark hosts conference on aid to Africa

The Danish government on Thursday hosted a conference on peacebuilding measures for Africa and the Scandinavian country's aid to the impoverished continent.

At the start of the one-day meeting, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed African Union Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare and U.N.'s deputy secretary-general Mark Malloch Brown.

The Danish and African Union flags fluttered side by side outside the Foreign Ministry waterfront building where the gathering was taking place.

Also attending the conference were Mozambique Prime Minister Luisa Dias Diogo and Tanzania's foreign minister, Asha-Rose Migiro, along with other AU and Danish officials.

The conference was expected to focus on the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, where a peace agreement reached by Sudanese authorities and Darfur's main rebel group last week in Abuja, Nigeria, could help end fighting that has killed at least 180,000 people in three years and displaced more than 2 million.

The United States and other world powers are pushing for a force under the command of the United Nations that is double the size of the AU force there, but Sudan's government has yet to agree.

The AU's 7,200 peacekeepers, now low on funds, have largely been ineffective in stopping atrocities and re-establishing security, leaving tens of thousands of people in camps, with little food or water.

After talks with Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday, Konare said he backed calls for a large U.N. peacekeeping force to be deployed quickly and expressed hope the United Nations would soon decide on whether to send Darfur peacekeepers.

Also, Fogh Rasmussen had said he would propose new economic initiatives for Africa at the conference, reports the AP.


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