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Europe

EU Again Threatens Sudan with Sanctions

The European Union on Saturday renewed a threat to slap sanctions on the Sudanese government if it does not do more to rein in militias in the western Darfur region.

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Around 1.4 million refugees have fled the violence in Darfur

Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, on Saturday welcomed the fact that some progress has been made on improving the humanitarian situation in Darfur, but lamented that security remains a problem.

"Whereas we note some progress in the humanitarian field we are still particularly worried at the security situation caused by lack of progress in disarming and controlling the Janjaweed"

pro-government militias, he said.

Speaking after EU foreign ministers discussed the Darfur crisis at talks in the Netherlands, he said the 25-member bloc will "continue to exert pressure on the Sudanese government to comply with" UN demands.

A UN deadline for Khartoum to disarm its proxy militia in Darfur, the Janjaweed, accused of atrocities in the region, passed last week, with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan lamenting on Wednesday that Sudan has neither disarmed the Arab militia nor stopped attacks against civilians in Darfur.

"It is necessary to make it quite clear that we may be forced to impose sanctions at some point in the future," said Bot, adding that EU officials have been asked to draw up a list of possible sanctions and their implications.

He added that an oil boycott "may be one of the measures," but stressed that the ministers had not discussed details of exactly what sanctions could be imposed.

The United States is planning to introduce a new UN Security Council resolution to deal with the Darfur crisis, after a critical report on Khartoum's compliance with the council's demands in an earlier resolution.

The Dutch minister added that he hoped progress could be made at African Union-sponsored talks between rebels from Sudan's Darfur region and government officials from Khartoum, which resumed Saturday in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

"We call on the parties at the Abuja tals ... to move forward and to come to a settlement," said Bot.

According to UN estimates, up to 50,000 people have died in Darfur, about 1.4 million people have fled their homes with about 180,000 crossing the border into Chad.

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