ARLINGTON, Va. — The top commander of NATO and U.S. forces says it’s unlikely alliance troops will be dispatched to the troubled Darfur region of Africa any time soon.

Marine Gen. James Jones told Stars and Stripes said that although some key leaders have been pressing for action, no plans are in works to help in Dafur, where attacks by Arab militias against the region’s non-Arab population has left an estimated 70,000 dead and more than 2 million displaced.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has been pushing for action by the alliance, Jones told Congressional leaders Monday, “but that hasn’t resulted in any traction for the alliance to do something as an alliance.”

Scheffer is “doing what he can to illuminate the problem and force discussions on it, but as of yet there’s no consensus for any kind of NATO mission,” Jones said.

New York’s Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she worried that the alliance, which has been emphasizing closer ties with Africa under Jones, would lose credibility if didn’t offer some kind of help in the crisis.

“This is going to be one of those situations where we all look back and say, ‘How did we let it happen again?’” said Clinton, referring to Rwanda’s 1994 sectarian killing sprees that left hundreds of thousands dead while the international community did little to help.

“Our credibility is going to be very low if we can’t even get them a transport plane or do something to help them with some visible means of support,” said Clinton. “I just worry that all the good work you’re trying to do in Africa will look like it’s basically insubstantial.”

“It is an horrific situation,” said Jones, “but whatever is being done is going to have to be done on a bilateral basis … it’s regrettable.”

Jones told Stripes he was unaware of any plans for U.S.-only military mission into Darfur.

“I need political approval to do that, and I have not got that.”

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