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Annan arrives in the Sudan amid 'good signs' for peace, humanitarian relief

Annan arrives in the Sudan amid 'good signs' for peace, humanitarian relief

Arriving in the Sudan today on his first official visit to the war-ravaged country, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said the time was ripe for peace and expanded humanitarian relief operations there.

"I come at a time when the peace process has been re-energized, and we see some good signs," the Secretary-General told reporters in Khartoum. He voiced optimism that in talks with Sudanese leaders, it would be possible to replicate a recent agreement which paved the way for humanitarian access to the Nuba mountains. "I hope that as the result of this visit and frank discussions we are going to have, our humanitarian activities would be much, much smoother, and I'm looking forward to that result," he said.

Asked whether the UN was concerned about Government flight bans in the south, Mr. Annan said the UN was always "extremely disturbed if we do not have free and unfettered access to those in need." He expressed confidence that the government "will share my concern that we do not want to see anyone in need deprived" of assistance, adding, "I hope during my visit here we will work out concrete arrangements for opening up those areas."

After briefing reporters, the Secretary-General met with UN staff and the UN country team in the Sudan. He later met with officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country dealing with emergency relief, human rights and community peace efforts, including CARE, Oxfam, the Sudanese Red Crescent and Save the Children UK.