Talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja between the Khartoum government and the rebels were deadlocked on Sunday after a disagreement over conditions in refugee camps in Darfur.

"Political dialogue is the only option for the Sudanese to extricate themselves out of the current impasse," AU chairman Alpha Umar Konare said in a statement issued from the pan-African body's headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The talks, meant to try to find a political solution to the conflict in Darfur, were expected to resume later on Monday.

Sudan says the rebels are using delaying tactics to step up pressure on the government to make further political concessions before a UN deadline expiring on Monday calling on Khartoum to improve security for refugees.

The rebels, who launched a revolt in the arid Darfur region of western Sudan in February 2003 and are reported to have exploited a land issue to gain momentum and support for their cause, have accused Khartoum of breaching a ceasefire by killing 75 civilians in attacks on six villages.

Praise

Sudan's national news agency reported on Sunday that UN chief Kofi Anan had praised Sudan for trying to ensure aid got to Darfurians and trying to bring back stability to the region.

Sudan has been praised for
ensuring aid gets to Darfurians

According to a UN report evaluating the situation in Darfur, to be discussed on Thursday, refugees have been traumatised to the extent that they do not trust even the UN.

The report noted that refugees were fearful of returning to their villages due to random attacks which the rebels blame on the Janjawid. However, the Janjawid say they are not responsible for the attacks and are in the process of disarming.

News agencies have consistently been saying the Janjawid are a pro-government force, while the Sudanese government has rejected this claim and says the Janjawid and the rebels are both outlaws.

The Janjawid, however, have reached a negotiated settlement with the government and are being disarmed. The rebels have refused to be disarmed and are seen to be stalling negotiations.