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Sudan ends US movement restrictions, investigates Chad's accusation

4/9/2005 6:00pm

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Apr 9, 2005 (AP) -- Sudan's foreign minister on Saturday announced the lifting of restrictions on the movement of American diplomats in the country, the state run news agency reported.

Also, the government began an investigation into accusations by Chad that Sudan is recruiting and training Chadian rebels.

Foreign Minister Mustafa Oman Ismail told Sudan's official news agency that the decision to lift restrictions on American diplomats in Sudan starting Monday follows a similar move made by Washington last week.

Sudan began barring American diplomats and members of non-governmental organizations from moving freely in the country a month ago in what it said was a response to Washington's restrictions against Sudanese diplomats in recent years.

Meanwhile, Sudan sent a delegation to Chad to hold talks with President Idriss Deby, whose government on Friday accused Khartoum of recruiting, training and arming some 3,000 rebels in an effort to destabilize his government.

Sudan's ruling National Congress Party said it would investigate the accusations but said it was a "a misunderstanding" that could be cleared through official channels.

"We are not going to meet the good deeds of the Chadian government by bad deeds and ingratitude," senior ruling party official Hassan Bargo said, referring to Chadian efforts in mediating the peace process in Sudan.

Also Saturday, Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir reiterated that no Sudanese citizen would be handed over to the International Criminal Court for trial for alleged war crimes in the western Darfur region.

"The state will not hand over any citizens for trial outside the country," SUNA quoted el-Bashir as telling an army garrison in the southern province of Bahr el-Ghazal.

Sudan says its own judicial system will take charge of any prosecutions.

A U.N. Security Council resolution at the end of March empowered the court to prosecute alleged perpetrators of war crimes in Sudan's western Darfur region. Fifty-one Sudanese suspects were identified by a special U.N. inquiry commission sent to Sudan to assess human rights abuses.

An estimated 180,000 people have died in the Darfur conflict since February 2003, when two non-Arab rebel groups took up arms against the Arab-dominated government to win more rights for the region's African tribes.

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