U.K. may despatch troops to Sudan

LONDON, JULY 24. The United Kingdom could send 5,000 troops to Sudan very quickly if the British Government decides to intervene in the humanitarian crisis, the head of the British army said yesterday.

``If need be we will be able to go to Sudan,'' General Sir Mike Jackson, the chief of U.K. general staff, told BBC News 24. ``I suspect we could put a brigade together very quickly indeed.''

Pressure for intervention was growing yesterday after the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution declaring that ``the atrocities unfolding in Darfur ... are genocide''.

In defiance of complaints from Sudanese officials that their country is being treated like Iraq, members of the house urged the U.S. President, George W Bush, to seek a U.N. resolution threatening sanctions against those responsible and authorising a multinational force to protect displaced people and humanitarian workers.

Draft resolution

A draft Security Council resolution is already circulating at the U.N. headquarters in New York. The U.N. estimates that the 15-month conflict between Arab nomads and black African farmers has killed at least 30,000 people and displaced more than 1 million.

Although Sudan has promised to protect displaced civilians and disarm the Arab Janjaweed militias, western diplomats say it has not done enough- particularly in terms of reining-in the militias.

The hope in Washington and London is that sight of the draft resolution will persuade Khartoum to comply, but officials say they will seek a vote if they feel the pressure is not working.

`Meddling will stop'

Mr. Annan, speaking at the same press conference, gave short shrift to Sudan's accusations that the U.S. and Britain were meddling in its internal affairs. ``Once they (the Sudanese Government) do what is right, the meddling will stop,'' he said.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has asked British officials to draw up plans for a possible military intervention, but Britain's immediate focus is on supporting the African Union, which is deploying 60 ceasefire monitors. — Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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