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Darfur: Annan & Pres. Bush agree to work together

Annan and President Bush agree to ‘work together’ on Darfur

After meeting today with United States President George W. Bush and other senior US officials, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the President had agreed to work together with him and other world governments to help alleviate the suffering in Sudan’s strife-torn region of Darfur.

Mr. Annan, who arrived in Washington this morning, also discussed the situation in the Middle East and the nuclear dispute involving Iran with the US President, and a UN spokesperson in New York said he would meet some members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before returning to headquarters later on Monday.

“I’m very happy that we have agreed to work together on the Darfur issue, working with other governments from Europe, from Asia and other regions to ensure that we do have an effective security presence on the ground,” Mr. Annan told reporters after meeting the President.

“And of course this is an issue where all governments have to play their role,” the Secretary-General added.

In remarks to reporters made last week, Mr. Annan said that he would ask countries with highly trained and well-equipped troops to take part in a proposed peacekeeping force that may take over from the African Union’s mission in the Darfur region.

In today’s meeting, Mr. Annan also said that he had discussed UN reform with President Bush and that he had thanked him for the support he has given the United Nations on this issue.

Turning to the Middle East, the Secretary-General said that they had discussed the recent election victory of the Palestinian Hamas group and he had repeated his call for Hamas to transform itself into a political party “and work with the international community and the Israeli Government.”

“We also touched on the nuclear issue of Iran. And here, again, I hope that between now and the time the Atomic Energy Agency issues its next report, there will be indications from the Iranian side that negotiations are not dead and that both sides can come back to the table and find a way out of this crisis,” the Secretary-General said.

Speaking to reporters last Thursday, Mr. Annan said the International Atomic Energy Agency would report to the Security Council on Iran’s planned resumption of uranium enrichment activities by the end of this month, but he urged both sides to explore diplomatic channels to resolve the issue.

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