1. Various exteriors of hotel venue for news conference
2. Sudanese delegation taking seats
4. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mohamed Ali El Mardi, Sudanese Justice Minister:
"In spite of this, the Security Council held a meeting, convened as usual by the suggestion of the United States and the European countries, the Council adopted Resolution number 1706 on the basis that the situation in Sudan threatens the security and peace of the world, and that the resolution is held under chapter seven."
5. Various of woman taking notes
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Mohamed Ali El Mardi, Sudanese Justice Minister:
"And in so many occasions there are local disputes which do not amount to a threat to the international peace and security. And the third reason which is important is that the introduction of such forces would be against the sovereignty of the Sudan because they are coming to revise the performance of the judiciary and this is provided for in the decision 1706 and to monitor the hierarchy of the police, this is interference in the internal affairs of the Sudan and the leader of such forces will be like Bremer in Iraq (referring to L. Paul Bremer, the US official who ran Iraq for a year after the invasion)."
7. Wide pan of news conference
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Mohamed Ali El Mardi, Sudanese Justice Minister:
"There are no incidents of violence against women, there are no tribal disputes of the extent that used to happen before because we embarked on a series of reconciliations between tribes and now this has helped a lot in the peaceful existence between these tribes."
9. Wide of news conference
10. Over the shoulder shot of Mardi speaking at news conference
11. Delegates listening
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Mohamed Ali El Mardi, Sudanese Justice Minister:
"If this number is still 200-thousand people that means that the situation has improved considerably, otherwise if the killing is continuous the number should have risen up to one million or 800-thousand people. But the main fact that it is still 200-thousand, although this is exaggerated very much, but the main fact that it has not risen up means that the situation in Darfur is better than it was at any other previous time."
Sudan's justice minister on Thursday reiterated his country's opposition to the deployment of United Nations troops in the troubled western region of Darfur, and described the situation there as having "improved considerably".
"The introduction of such (UN) forces would be against the sovereignty of the Sudan," Mohamed Ali El Mardi told AP Television News, during a visit to South Africa.
The UN and Sudan agreed in November on a three-stage plan to strengthen a 7,000-strong African Union (AU) force deployed in 2004.
The proposed plan culminates with the deployment of a joint AU-UN force with 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers.
But Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has since backed off the deal, saying he would only allow a larger AU force, with technical and logistical support from the UN.
Al-Bashir's refusal to accept UN troops, along with the relentless bloodshed in Darfur, have prompted the United States and Britain to call for tougher action against Sudan, where four years of conflict have killed an estimated 200,000 people and chased more than 2.5 million people from their homes.
Mardi described the reported casualty figures for the region as "exaggerated."
"The main fact that it is still 200-thousand, although this is exaggerated very much, but the main fact that it has not risen up means that the situation in Darfur is better than it was at any other previous time," he said.
Al-Bashir's government is accused of backing Arab janjaweed militiamen blamed for widespread atrocities against ethnic African civilians.
Last Friday, the UN Human Rights Council expressed concern over the situation in Darfur, but omitted any criticism of the Sudanese government for snubbing the body's investigators or for allegedly playing a role in killings, rapes or other atrocities in its western region.
Khartoum refused to grant visas to a six-member UN team that was to visit Darfur in February because it said one of the experts was biased.
Mardi questioned the scrutiny of the international community and said many of the disputes were "local disputes which do not amount to a threat to the international peace and security."
He said the Sudanese people had been working on a series of "reconciliations between tribes", which had proved to be helpful.
At a meeting in Saudi Arabia last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and al-Bashir agreed to work on defining the size of the African Union force and the participation of the United Nations in the peacekeeping mission.
Ban did not win al-Bashir's acceptance of the deployment of UN troops.
Speaking on Thursday, Ban said he hoped next week's meeting of UN, African Union and Sudanese officials in Ethiopia's capital would lead to a quick strengthening of African troops in Darfur and the deployment of UN peacekeepers.
Ban said the meeting would finalise the second stage of the three-stage plan, a heavy support package for the AU force featuring more than 3,000 UN troops, police, and other personnel as well as additional equipment.
The first phase, a light support package including police advisers, civilian staff and additional resources and technical support, has already been sent to Darfur.