UN, Sudan in talks on Darfur peacekeeping force

The United Nations and Sudan began talks in Khartoum Tuesday to prepare for an eventual orderly withdrawal of UN/African Union peacekeepers from Darfur, a senior UN official said.
Herve Ladsous, head of UN peacekeeping, said the team in Khartoum would set up a working group that would "look at the process for the exit of UNAMID (UN-African Union Mission in Darfur) eventually."
"But of course all that must be the subject of benchmarks and appropriate attention because there is still a lot of work to be done inside Darfur," he said.
"This has to happen in a well organized way and we are looking very closely at the scope of descent of the overall figures of the mission," he said.
The working group is to report before the end of April, said French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who heads the UN Security Council in March.
According to Ladsous, the group\’s report would be presented to the Security Council and to the African Union at the end of May.
The UN-AU mission has been under growing pressure from the Sudanese authorities to withdraw and relations with Khartoum have deteriorated.
A first round of talks with the Sudanese authorities about UNAMID\’s departure was held February 19.
A special report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended drawing up a plan for an exit strategy by April of 2015.
The mission has already announced the elimination of 770 civilian jobs.
Deployed since 2007, UNAMID currently numbers some 15,000 police and military personnel and 5,000 civilians, making it one of the largest peacekeeping missions in the world.
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