SANTA FE, N.M. -- Heading on a diplomatic mission to Sudan, Gov. Bill Richardson said Saturday he hopes to persuade the country's president to accept more U.N. peacekeepers in war-ravaged Darfur, a goal that has eluded world leaders.
The New Mexico Democrat, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, said in an Associated Press interview that he does not expect to settle President Omar al-Bashir's dispute with the U.N. over troop levels during the trip beginning this weekend.
He planned to meet with rebel leaders in Darfur on Tuesday and al-Bashir in Khartoum, the capital, on Monday. Sudan's state news agency confirmed Saturday that Richardson would meet the president; several Western officials were unable to get a meeting with the Sudanese leader during their recent visits.
Richardson, who was U.N. ambassador under President Clinton, said he has three goals for his visit to the African nation: increasing the U.N. force in Darfur, improving the humanitarian situation and helping encourage a cease-fire.
"I'll consider it a success if we accelerate movement in those areas," Richardson said over breakfast at the governor's mansion before departing. "But I don't want to raise expectations. I don't think we'll settle the U.N. issue."
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