Sudan rivals urged to compromise

UN and EU envoys join talks in Doha to end conflict and ensure humanitarian-aid flow.

    The government of al-Bashir is locked in conflict with separatist groups in Sudan's Darfur region  [AFP]

    Ahmad al-Mahmoud, Qatar's minister of state for foreign affairs, said both sides should end attacks and make compromises if a lasting peace agreement was to be reached, according to the official Qatar News Agency.

    Djibril Bassole, mediator for the UN and African Union, said the envoys were trying to put together a plan which includes a timetable for reaching a peace deal, the complete cessation of hostilities, and the sharing of wealth and land.

    In February the Justice and Equality Movement, or Jem, one of Darfur's main rebel groups, held talks with Sudanese government officials in Qatar after signing an agreement to hold peace negotiations.

    'Long way to go'

    Describing the current talks, Eric Chevallier, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry, told Al Jazeera that some progress had been made, but there was still a long way to go.

    "This is why we are in Doha, because the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus EU representatives are here together to support the efforts of the UN and the AU as mediators as well as Qatar, " he said.

    "We are quite impressed with what they have so far accomplished, but still it is very difficult. Nobody can imagine that there will be a solution tomorrow morning - that's foolish.

    "But it's worth trying and if we don't try, then we will certainly not reach any success."

    Chevallier said the Chinese are very committed to trying to help "but you can't have a solution without first getting the regional actors to be involved like Chad, Sudan and the rebel groups inside Darfur - all the people who can make a difference together.

    "Without the efforts of local, regional and the international community, and of course China, which has a great role to play, we will not find a solution".

    Al-Bashir's appeal

    The talks in Doha commenced as Omar al-Bashir, the country's president, appealed for reconciliation among all tribes that straddle the borders between Sudan and neighbouring countries.

    Speaking before the National Council for Strategic Planning in Khartoum, he said that efforts would continue to be made to overcome the effects of the civil war in the south and the ongoing conflict in Darfur.

    Darfur's tribes took up arms against al-Bashir's government in 2003, demanding better representation and infrastructure for the region.

    Khartoum mobilised mostly Arab fighters to crush the revolt but denies US accusations this amounted to genocide.

    International experts estimate some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes in Darfur. Khartoum puts the death toll at about 10,000.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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