updated 8/6/2004 11:18:35 AM ET 2004-08-06T15:18:35

Sudan’s foreign minister and a U.N. envoy have agreed on steps Sudan must take the next 30 days to begin to disarm Arab militias and other outlawed groups and to improve security in western Darfur, the United Nations said Thursday.

Last Friday, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution giving Sudan 30 days to curb pro-government Arab militias known as the Janjaweed, which have been blamed for violence in Darfur, or face possible diplomatic and economic penalties.

The new agreement, reached Wednesday night in the Sudanese capital Khartoum by the country’s top diplomat Mustafa Osman Ismail and U.N. special representative Jan Pronk, must now be approved by Sudan’s Cabinet, said Denise Cook, a U.N. spokeswoman.

She quoted Pronk as saying that if the Cabinet approves the agreement and if it is implemented “then he was very hopeful that the Security Council would come to the conclusion that there was indeed substantial progress and that there was no need to consider further action.”

The United Nations said it would not release the text of the agreement until it was approved by the Cabinet.

“The information that we have is that it contains detailed steps to be taken in the next 30 days on how to begin to disarm the Janjaweed and other outlawed groups, on improving security in Darfur, and on addressing the humanitarian crisis,” Cook said.

Pronk and Ismail had been meeting since Sunday as part of the Joint Implementation Mechanism, which was set up to ensure compliance with commitments made by Sudan and the United Nations in a July 3 agreement aimed at easing the crisis in Darfur.

The United States estimates that up to 30,000 people have been killed in the 17-month conflict and predicts more deaths to come between September and December as the rains come, sanitation and water systems collapse, and disease spreads. The United Nations says 1 million people have been forced to flee their homes and an estimated 2.2 million people are in urgent need of food, medicine and shelter.

Sudan’s Ismail said Thursday in Khartoum that foreign military intervention to end the Darfur crisis was unlikely. He said the government “will do our best” to meet Security Council demands to end the region’s violence although he called the resolution “unfair.”

His comments followed a mass state-organized protest Wednesday to condemn the U.N. resolution.

In Washington, President Bush urged the Sudanese government to stop the violence by the Janjaweed, respect a cease-fire and allow free movement of humanitarian aid.

John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the clock is ticking on compliance with the Security Council resolution and the Sudanese government must show that it is making “a good faith effort.”

“I do believe by the end of this month we will have a very good indication of whether the government is serious or whether it’s not serious,” he told reporters.

Danforth said council members will be asking: “Is the government doing anything to disarm the Janjaweed? Is it doing anything to protect the civilian population? Or is it essentially doing nothing?”

“If the government is unloading bombs from planes, using helicopters to destroy villages, if there is a sense of command and control flowing from the government to the Janjaweed ... that would be a very, very clear picture,” he said.

Danforth warned that “if this situation continues, it’s going to be very visible ... and the government of Sudan will be an international pariah, and there will be consequences.”

Francis Deng, a former Sudanese foreign minister who is now a U.N. envoy, urged the United States and other countries to support the African Union’s beefed-up peacekeeping mission in Darfur without intervening directly.

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