EU offers to end aid freeze following Sudan peace deal

Jan. 2 (AP)

The European Union offered euro400 million (US$545 million) Sunday to Sudan following a peace agreement between the government and southern rebels, ending a 14-year freeze on development aid.

But it warned the release of the money over the next three years depended on the effective implementation of Friday's peace deal and increased efforts to end a separate conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.

The Sudanese government signed an agreement Friday in the Kenyan city of Naivasha to end the 21-year war with rebels in the south.

Diplomats hope the momentum created by the peace deal will intensify efforts to end the Darfur conflict which has killed tens of thousands and displaced nearly 2 million from their homes since fighting started in February 2003.

Welcoming the Naivasha agreement, the European Commission said it was ready to resume cooperation suspended in 1990 because of concerns over human rights and the conduct of the civil war.

"This process will, however, depend on the additional efforts to be made by all parties in order to improve the situation in the Darfur," the EU head office said in a statement.

Despite the freeze on development aid, the EU commission has continued to provide emergency humanitarian relief to Sudan, at around euro160 million (US$218 million) a year.