Sudan pledges $ 300 mln Darfur compensation -Carter

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KEBKABIYA, Sudan, Oct 3 (Reuters) Sudan's president has promised to pay 300 million dollars in compensation to the country's war-torn Darfur region, tripling a previous pledge, former US President Jimmy Carter said today.

Carter told Reuters President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan had made the pledge during talks with him and other members of a visiting group of elder statesmen, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Khartoum on Monday.

''We had a constructive meeting with President Bashir,'' Carter told Reuters as he set off on a tour of the northern Darfur town of Kebkabiya with the elders party.

''He promised us there would be 300 million dollars in all coming to the Darfur region in compensation, 100 million dollars coming from the government, and 200 million dollars to be a loan from the Chinese.'' Sudan promised to pay 30 million dollars in compensation to Darfur under the terms of a 2006 peace agreement signed with only one rebel group. Other rebel groups who refused to sign angrily rejected the offer as too low and remained unhappy when it was later raised to 100 million dollars.

Carter said Bashir had promised to allow international observers into Sudan to make sure national elections scheduled for 2009 were ''honest and fair''.

He said the Sudanese president had promised to let Carter's own organisation take part in the monitoring. ''I hope there will be others,'' the former US president said, adding that his Carter Center had monitored 58 national polls around the world.

Bashir also told Carter that a national census, due to start in Sudan in February, had been delayed.

International experts say some 200,000 people have died in Darfur since mainly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government in 2003. The United States says Arab militia mobilised by Sudan have committed genocide, a term European and African governments have avoided.

REUTERS SG BST1239

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