On a brief visit to Qatar, during which he also met the Amir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani,  al-Bashir  said that a majority of the contentious issues dividing the Sudan government and the rebels had been bridged.

"I hope that we will celebrate peace before the end of the year," al-Bashir told representatives of the local Sudanese community.

Rebels belonging to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan government signed on Thursday an agreement, at peace talks in Kenya, on security issues, seen as a key step in reaching a comprehensive accord.

Both sides had tentatively agreed on a six-year period of self-rule for the south.

The next round of Sudanese peace talks is scheduled for 6 October.

The talks aim at ending Sudan's long running civil war raging since 1983.

The conflict has killed more than 1.5 million people and displaced another four million.