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U.S. proposes 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers for Sudan

Draft resolution submitted to Security Council members

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United States on Monday proposed sending to Sudan up to 10,000 United Nations peacekeepers who would have the authority to use force to "protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence."

Deputy U.S. Ambassador Stuart Holliday said the proposal would mean U.N. peacekeepers could be in a position to protect civilians in Darfur but added that the United States is leaving it up to the United Nations to advise on where the troops would be deployed.

In January, Sudan's government and main rebel group signed comprehensive peace accords to end more than 21 years of civil war between north and south. International officials expressed hope that the agreement will bring the government closer to solving problems in the western Darfur region. (Full story)

However, it is not yet clear if the Sudanese government will allow U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur. Pressed on the question, Holliday would only say, "Sudan has not denied" permission.

The proposed troops would also monitor a cease-fire agreement in Darfur and movement of any armed groups.

Holliday introduced the proposal in a draft resolution circulated Monday to the 14 other members of the U.N. Security Council.

Holliday said the proposed peacekeepers would be working as a complement to the African Union troops deployed there. In addition to the 10,000 peacekeepers, the resolution proposes 715 civilian police and human rights and legal experts.

In the draft resolution, the United States also proposed a travel ban and freeze on assets of any individuals responsible for violating the cease-fire agreement in the Darfur region.

The draft also proposed an expanded arms embargo. A current arms embargo, which covers the Janjaweed militia and rebel members "hasn't had much effect to date," said Holliday.

Under the new resolution, the arms embargo would be expanded to include the government of Sudan in Darfur. Any government movement of weapons would have to be approved by the Security Council.

The resolution does not include a ban on Sudan's petroleum sector -- which council members China and Russia have opposed. Instead the resolution says an oil ban would be considered if the situation in Darfur "continues to deteriorate."

The draft resolution does not address the contentious issue of where to try those accused of war crimes in Darfur. Holliday said that would be addressed in a future resolution.

Most members of the Security Council want to use the existing International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands. The United States opposes that court and wants an existing tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, to be used instead.

Under the resolution, a panel of experts would work with a Security Council committee to identify individuals who should be singled out for sanction.

In the wake of recent sex scandals in which U.N. peacekeepers abused civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the U.S. draft requests U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan establish a "Personnel Conduct Unit" in the proposed Sudan mission to prevent and identify perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse. (Full story)

In a report issued late last month, the United Nations found that the government of Sudan and Janjaweed militias have acted together in committing widespread atrocities in Darfur that should be prosecuted by an international war crimes tribunal.

However, the report concluded that the violent acts have not amounted to genocide. (Full story)

The United Nations has estimated that since it began documenting deaths there last April more than 70,000 people have died in Sudan -- the result of the violence and malnutrition plaguing the area. Many more are thought to have died before that.

The conflict has displaced an estimated 1.6 million people within Darfur, with another 200,000 fleeing to neighboring Chad, according to U.N. figures.

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