Garang’s trip indicated the rebels’ commitment to end the conflict, said spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), Yasir Arman, late on Tuesday.

Garang is expected to meet Sudan’s Vice President Ali Usman Muhammad Taha who is heading the state’s delegation to the talks, due to resume on 10 September, in Nairobi said Arman.

“By placing at the head of its delegation its highest ranking official, the SPLA means to send a very definite message regarding its commitment to these talks. The ball is now in Khartoum’s court,” said Arman.

A Sudanese government negotiator said last month Khartoum and the rebels had made some progress on power-sharing in their latest peace talks, raising hopes over the largely deadlocked attempt to end the war.

Conflicts continue

But rebels played down reports of progress, accusing the government of attempting to derail the peace process by trying to sideline agreements made at earlier rounds of talks.

The latest session of negotiations between the government and the SPLA ended in August after hitting an impasse.

The rebels and the government reached an agreement more than a year ago under which southern Sudanese would vote in a referendum on secession after a six-year transition period.

But they have since been unable to agree on several vital issues, including how to share power and wealth.

The war has claimed two million lives in Africa’s largest country.

Meanwhile, Khartoum is due to sign a separate ceasefire deal on Wednesday with a rebel group from the west of the country, reported a government-owned newspaper.

A high-level delegation will leave to Chad to sign a truce with the Darfur rebels, reported the daily al-Anba.