updated 6/15/2008 7:25:43 PM ET 2008-06-15T23:25:43

Sudan's defense minister asked Egypt on Sunday to commit more troops to his country's troubled Darfur region.

An Egyptian battalion is due in Darfur by the end of June to boost the beleaguered AU-U.N. hybrid peacekeeping force that is struggling to protect civilians in the violent region.

"Sudan wants large Egyptian participation in these troops," said Minister Abdul Rahim Hussein, adding that he was also asking for police. He spoke to reporters in Cairo after meetings with Egypt's president, foreign minister and intelligence chief.

U.N. officials have complained that banditry and insecurity are on the rise in Darfur, particularly following an attack by Darfur rebels on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in May.

The peacekeeping mission deployed in January, but it remains staffed at only about a third of the level authorized. The force also lacks equipment and transport.

Sudan has insisted that the force be predominantly African, causing difficulties and delays in securing troop commitments. Only 9,000 of the 26,000 troops authorized for the U.N.-AU force are currently in Darfur. Sudanese officials have said they will allow Thai and Nepalese forces to join the mission but only after the Egyptian and Ethiopian troops arrive.

The Egyptian forces in the area are expected to number about 1,200. An advance team is already in place, but U.N. officials say the region's rough roads have delayed the arrival of equipment.

Hussein said an Egyptian police force can be deployed in and around camps in Darfur for people who have been displaced.

As many as 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since ethnic African rebels took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated central government in 2003. Many of the worst atrocities in the conflict have been blamed on the janjaweed militia of Arab nomads. Khartoum denies backing the militia.

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