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Darfur rebels agree to resume peace talks

4/12/2005 3:54pm

CAIRO, April 11 (AFP) -- The main rebel group in Sudan's Darfur region agreed Monday to resume stalled peace negotiations with the government, retracting earlier conditions it had set for returning to the peace table.

"We officially announce the movement's readiness to enter serious political negotiations with the Sudanese government through the Abuja forum according to the agreed agenda," said Mahjoub Hussein, a spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM).

"It (the SLM) announces this in the belief that it aspires to achieve peace in all parts of Darfur and Sudan," he told AFP by telephone from London.

The African Union has been trying to mediate an end to more than two years of conflict between Khartoum and ethnic minority rebels in Darfur, which has left some 300,000 people dead and 2.4 million displaced.

The talks broke off last year over accusations of ceasefire violations by each side and the SLM had said it would not return unless a string of conditions were met.

These included the prosecution of individuals accused of committing war crimes in Darfur and international protection for locals.

"We are ready whenever the other party is ready," said Hussein, adding that the SLM wanted ensure that the negotiations were not simply a propaganda exercise by the Khartoum government.

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