Russia calls for mediation in Sudan-Chad conflict

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Moscow, Apr 3 (UNI) Russia today called for further efforts by the international community to stop renewed tensions between Sudan and Chad in the highly volatile region in Africa.

''Moscow expresses concern over reports about the resumption of violence between Chad and Sudan,'' Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

''Russia supports the efforts by international mediators, including the UN and the African Union, aimed at stabilising the situation in the region and calls for further steps in preventing a new outbreak of violence by political means,'' the statement said.

The Chadian government said earlier this week that insurgents backed by Khartoum had launched a new offensive in the east of the country, while Sudan yesterday accused Chad of violating its territory at least three times in the past two days.

About 7,000 peacekeepers from the 26-nation African Union were currently posted in the war-torn region, but they were expected to be replaced with a 26,000-strong joint force from the African Union and the UN in 2008.

Since 2003, Chad and Sudan have accused each other of inciting conflict on their common border, especially in the west Sudanese region of Darfur.

According to international estimates, over 200,000 people have been killed and around 2.5 million displaced in the brutal conflict.

Last month, Sudan and Chad signed an agreement in Senegal aimed at stopping hostilities between the two countries, but rebels on both sides dismissed the document as ''nonsense.'' UNI XC PD RN1956

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