UN warning

But Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, warned both sides that they must renounce violence before a peace deal can be reached.

He described the "goodwill" agreement signed in Doha as "a constructive step" but urged both parties to agree to a ceasefire and attend further "comprehensive and inclusive talks".

"Until the parties renounce hostilities, the situation in Darfur cannot improve," Ban said on Tuesday.

Other rebel factions have refused to talk to Khartoum and Al Jazeera has learnt there are serious disagreements between anti-government groups about the Doha agreement.

Deployment delayed

Meanwhile, UN officials announced that an international peacekeeping force in Darfur would not reach its target of 80 per cent deployment by March.

The Jem delegation agreed to 'confidence building measures' with Khartoum [AFP]
More than a year after its deployment, the joint force still operates at around 65 per cent of its capacity.

Eighty per cent of the force was expected to be deployed in March, but the deployment has been postponed by at least three months.

However, Susana Malcorra, the UN undersecretary-general for field support, told the Associated Press that the full 26,000-strong UN-African Union force should be in place by November.

She added that the delay was not linked to an expected decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on whether to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on war crimes allegations in the western Darfur region.