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France Deploys Troops on Sudan's Border

Sudan (search) stepped back Saturday from rejecting a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding it disarm Arab militias responsible for atrocities in Darfur, as France deployed troops and aid along Chad's border with Sudan to help hundreds of thousands of Darfur refugees.

Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said the resolution passed a day earlier did not go beyond commitments Sudan already made in early July to U.N. chief Kofi Annan (search) to rein in the militias.

"If we look closely at this matter, we will find out that there is no reason to reject the resolution as it doesn't contain anything new, anything other than what already has been signed on in the agreement with the United Nations," Ismail told reporters.

The resolution gives the Sudanese government 30 days to act against the militias, known as the Janjaweed. International and humanitarian officials say Sudan has failed to honor its pledges to crack down on the Janjaweed (search).

After the Security Council (search) passed the resolution, Sudanese Information Minister El-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik said his country rejected the resolution, which "does not conform with the agreements signed between the government and the United Nations."

Asked about Malik's statement, Ismail said: "The Cabinet is the only body charged with responding to the resolution." After a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, the government will issue its definitive response, he said.

At least 30,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million displaced in a 17-month conflict in Darfur, where pro-government Arab militias known as Janjaweed have waged a brutal campaign to drive out black African farmers, torching villages, gunning down residents and raping women. The U.S. Congress has called the campaign genocide.

The violence has continued despite a cease-fire called in July and Sudanese promises of a crackdown. According to an African Union monitoring team, militias "believed to be Janjaweed" chained civilians together and set them on fire in an attack on a village earlier this month.

While the United States dropped a direct threat of sanctions from the resolution in the face of council opposition, the measure still says the council could take economic or diplomatic action against Sudan.

Sudan's ambassador to the African Union, Osman al-Said, told reporters in Addis Ababa on Saturday that his government would comply with the resolution.

"We are not happy with the resolution, but we are going to implement it — we have no other option," al-Said said.

However, the task of stabilizing Darfur — a region as large as Iraq and with 6 million inhabitants — may be too much for his government, al-Said warned.

"It is difficult to implement, so we need the U.N. assistance," al-Said said.

French military transport planes and helicopters on Saturday began flying humanitarian aid to eastern Chad to help thousands of refugees who fled there from violence in Darfur, French officials said.

Some 200 French troops also began deploying along Chad's border with Sudan to stabilize the area affected by cross-border raids by the Arab militiamen, said the French Ambassador in Chad.

"The mission of these troops is to secure the Chadian border," Jean-Pierre Dercot told The Associated Press. "This deployment will be completed in a matter of hours."

French military's Hercules C-130 cargo planes and Puma transport helicopters flew the first 12 tons of medicines, children food and tents to Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad on Saturday, Phillipe said.

The French military intervention is intended to facilitate speedy delivery of emergency aid to Sudanese refugees, some of whom live in camps affected by floods that hampers the delivery of humanitarian aid, Dercot said.

A small group of Egyptian military observers were on their way Saturday to Darfur to serve in the African Union team that is monitoring the cease-fire in the province, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in Khartoum after talks with government officials.

Aboul Gheit has said Egypt backs the U.N. resolution.

The Arab League, of which Sudan is a member, gave cautious support to the resolution on Saturday, with spokesman Hossam Zaki saying the 22-nation body hopes it will "benefit and not hinder efforts to settle the Darfur crisis."