Spindelegger says Sudan must cooperate to avoid civil war

People’s Party (ÖVP) Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger has appealed to his Sudanese counterpart Ali Ahmed Karti to increase measures avoiding a civil war breaking out in Darfur.Spindelegger said Austria – currently a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – had “great interest” in the wellbeing of the thousands of refugees living in the poverty-stricken African region after meeting Karti in Vienna today (Weds).The minister stressed: “The government of Sudan must show the will to cooperate with international partners such as the African Union and the United Nations (UN) to avoid a worsening of the situation.”Battles between rebel troops and the government’s forces have recently intensified.Spindelegger said the whole region would depend on the stability of Sudan, adding that another civil war “must be avoided.”The foreign minister said he offered Karti support in holding peaceful and fair referendums in the future.The Austrian government has meanwhile been criticised by NGOs after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) announced that the country spent 841 million Euros for international development projects in 2009 after supporting such initiatives with around 1.26 billion Euros the previous year.OECD said earlier this year that the amount accounted for only 0.3 per cent of Austria’s gross domestic product (GDP) after achieving a level of 0.43 per cent in 2008.The European Union’s (EU) 2010 criteria for its 27 member states is 0.51 per cent of the country’s GDPs, but Spindelegger recently made clear that Austria “will be unable to match this target”.He added the plan was to continue supporting poor countries by “motivating Austrian firms to make investments” there.