US envoy assesses Darfur:
The top US envoy in Sudan began Sunday a four-day trip to Darfur to assess security in the wartorn region as the UN prepares to downsize its 17,000-strong peacekeeping force.
The visit of Steven Koutsis, Washington’s charge d’affaires in Khartoum, also comes just weeks before President Donald Trump’s administration decides whether to permanently lift a two-decades old US trade embargo on Sudan.
A joint report sent to the UN Security Council last month by the African Union and the United Nations recommends that the ceiling set for military troops be cut by 44 percent and the maximum number of police reduced by 30 percent in the UNAMID force.
Ahead of the expected drawdown, Koutsis embarked on a visit to Darfur for a first-hand assessment of the situation in the region.
The envoy met several Sudanese and UN officials, as well as tribal chiefs, academics and members of civil society groups in the North Darfur capital of El-Fashir..