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Blair adds to pressure on Sudan.

Byline: BY DANIEL BENTLEY

Daily Post Correspondent TONY BLAIR moved to ratchet up the pressure on Sudan yesterday by appealing to EU leaders to demand a halt to the violence in Darfur.

In a letter to his counterparts in all of the 24 other member states (see panel below), the Prime Minister said the EU should play a "central role" in peace efforts.

He added that the Sudanese government should prepare to face isolation if it failed to respond to diplomatic pressure to end the "slaughter".

His missive came on the International Day for Darfur, as dozens of countries prepare to highlight the conflict.

On Saturday, Mr Blair condemned the Sudanese government for rejecting a UN peacekeeping force for the troubled region and accused it of breaking ceasefire arrangements.

Yesterday he appealed for further pressure on both the Sudanese government and rebel groups who have failed to sign up to a peace agreement.

In his letter, which has also been sent to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, Mr Blair insisted that the international community could not turn its back on the "tragic situation".

More than 200,000 people have been killed and more than two million have fled their homes since 2003 when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government.

The Darfur Peace Agreement signed by the government and one of the major rebel groups in May has failed to end fighting.

"The EU should play a central role in mobilising world opinion on this issue," he wrote.

"We should strongly call upon the government of Sudan and non-signatories alike to stop immediately the violence in Darfur. Both sides must abide by the commitments they made under previous ceasefire agreements."

He said the agreement gave a framework in which to work for "a peaceful solution".

"Therefore, we should also call on the rebel groups who have so far failed to sign up to do so' and on the government of Sudan and other parties to implement the agreement."

Mr Blair also called on the EU to back his demand for a UN peacekeeping force to be allowed to take over from the African Union Mission in Sudan.

He went on: "We should urge the government of Sudan to rise to the challenge above, make the right decisions to protect the people of Darfur, and put Sudan back in its rightful place at the heart of the family of nations.

"If it responds we should commit to provide substantial support for reconstruction and peace through debt relief and aid

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 18, 2006
Words:425
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