Sudan agrees to new Darfur talks

Sudan has said it will participate in a new round of African Union-sponsored peace negotiations with Darfur rebels due to convene next month in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

    First Vice-President Ali Usman Taha made the announcement

    Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid announced the government's decision, three days after Nigeria said the faltering peace talks would resume in the first two weeks of May.
    "The government has agreed to take part in a new round of talks with the Darfur armed movements in Abuja during the first week of next May after agreement by the movements," Hamid said.

    The government publicised its intentions as a delegation of African Union (AU) diplomats mediating in the Darfur conflict was visiting Khartoum for talks with officials, including First Vice-President Ali Usman Taha.
    "The AU team briefed the Sudanese officials about the preparations by the AU to create an environment conducive to the resumption of the political negotiations," the organisation said in a statement.
    Taha "reaffirmed his government's commitment and readiness to go back to Abuja in order to reach a comprehensive agreement to the conflict in Darfur", it added. 
    Rebel group ready

    Darfur's main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement, said earlier this month it was prepared to resume the talks whenever the government was ready.
    Sudan's arid and impoverished western region of Darfur has been in the grip of civil war for more than two years, after African groups rebelled against what they saw as persecution from Khartoum's Arab-led government.
    Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed and more than a million driven from their homes, most of them by government-armed militias.
    The AU has brokered a shaky ceasefire and sent a small force of military observers, but has struggled to find a political solution. Three previous rounds of talks in Abuja made little progress.



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