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>Bangladesh, Ethiopia offer Darfur helicopters

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>BANGLADESH and Ethiopia have offered some of the helicopters the United Nations badly needs for a peace force in Darfur, diplomats said on Tuesday as signs emerged of modest progress on the lagging deployment, reports Reuters.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a much disputed agreement with Sudan was due to be signed this week to regulate the terms on which the 26,000-strong U.N./African Union force will deploy in the violence-torn west Sudanese region.
The accord will not resolve the even more controversial issue of which nations will contribute to the force, but both Ban and diplomats indicated Thai and Nepalese troops would be accepted despite lengthy Sudanese hesitation.
Khartoum has been insisting that as much of the force as possible should be African and has rejected a Nordic engineering unit. The force, currently standing at 9,000 troops, is replacing an ineffectual 7,000-member AU mission.
One major handicap has been the reluctance of countries to provide the 18 attack and six transport helicopters U.N. planners say are vital if the force is to operate effectively in arid and violent Darfur, an area the size of France.

(Click here for full Reuters report)


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