UN bid to end Sudan conflicts

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The UN Security Council strongly backed efforts to achieve a peace agreement in Darfur by the end of this year and called for Sudan's Arab-dominated north and black African south to settle their disputes ahead of January's referendum on independence for the south.

The council heard briefings by mediators who have been dealing with the two separate conflicts in Sudan.

The African Union and the UN agreed to coordinate international action on Sudan and decided that an overall political and peace agreement in Darfur should be concluded this year, ahead of the January 9 referendum on the future of South Sudan.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who chairs the AU High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan, called on the council to send "strong messages" to all parties to resolve differences and support peace efforts.

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