updated 8/23/2007 5:37:23 PM ET 2007-08-23T21:37:23

Sudan expelled the top Canadian diplomat and the European Commission envoy from the country Thursday for what was described as “meddling in its affairs,” the state news agency reported.

It was not immediately clear why they were being expelled, but many Western countries have been critical of the Sudanese government’s role in its wartorn Darfur region.

The two were summoned separately to the Foreign Ministry and were handed their expulsion notes, the official SUNA news agency reported, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali Al Sadeq.

They were “involved in activities that constitute an intervention into the internal affairs of the Sudan, a matter that contradict their diplomatic duties and mission,” the spokesman said.

The Foreign Ministry did not identify the diplomats, but a diplomatic listing recorded Kent Degerfelt as the head of mission for the European Union and Alan Bones as charge d’affaires for Canada.

The spokesman also said the Foreign Ministry told the diplomats that “Sudan is keen to maintain the relation of cooperation linking it with the European Commission and with Canada.”

“This incident should not hamper the relations between the Sudan and both the EC and Canada,” Sadeq said.

The Canadian Embassy and the EC office did not immediately respond to phone calls by The Associated Press.

More than 200,000 people have died in Sudan’s embattled Darfur region since ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government in 2003, accusing it of discrimination.

Khartoum is accused of retaliating by unleashing janjaweed militias, which are blamed for the worst atrocities against civilians in a conflict that has displaced more than 2.5 million people.

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