U.S., U.K. commit to Sudanese peace

May 25, 2011 at 2:23 PM
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LONDON, May 25 (UPI) -- London and Washington will work together to encourage peace in Sudan following attacks on U.N. peacekeepers in Abyei, the U.S. president said.

U.S. President Barack Obama addressed British lawmakers Wednesday during a regional visit with European allies. Obama said during his address that London and Washington would work jointly to address Sudanese security concerns.

"As increasing tensions in the Abyei region threaten to derail Sudan's comprehensive peace agreement, we're working closely together to encourage the parties to recommit to a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and calling on the rapid reinforcement of the U.N.'s peacekeeping presence in the region," he said.

U.N. officials said helicopters used by peacekeepers in the area were shot at by Sudanese militants near Abyei.

Soldiers from the Sudanese government seized the region during the weekend. Abyei lies along the de facto border between Sudan and South Sudan, which is to become an independent nation in July.

Abyei was left out of the January referendum that gave southern Sudan the right to choose to become an independent state because of voter eligibility issues. Both governments had recommitted to a series of agreements on the departure of unsanctioned forces in Abyei in exchange for a joint police force before the latest conflict.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir reneged on earlier promises by saying he wouldn't recognize South Sudan if Abyei broke away from the north.

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