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U.N. threatens Sudan with sanctions

The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Saturday threatening sanctions against Sudan unless it acts to rein in Arab militias accused of violence in Darfur that the United States has called genocide.

The vote was 11-0, with abstentions by China, Russia, Pakistan and Algeria.

Those countries opposed sanctions and several other provisions they said could antagonize the Sudanese government and end its cooperation with international efforts to cope with the massive humanitarian crisis in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

The resolution strongly endorses the deployment of a beefed-up African Union force with an expanded monitoring mission that would actively try to prevent attacks and mediate to stop the conflict from escalating. More than 50,000 people have died and more than 1.2-million have fled their homes to escape the violence.

It authorizes Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was in the council chamber for the vote, to rapidly appoint an international commission to investigate reports of human rights violations in Darfur and determine "whether or not acts of genocide have occurred."

The approval of the resolution came a day after Annan called for immediate U.N. action to halt attacks against civilians in western Darfur, which he said were continuing despite the government's promise to rein in the marauding militias.

The United States, which introduced the resolution, revised it three times, each time softening language to try to get broader support and avert a threatened Chinese veto. Beijing failed to persuade the United States to make further changes.