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Sudanese government, AU mediators hope for peace in next round of Darfur talks

8/30/2005 4:54pm

By MOHAMED OSMAN, Associated Press Writer.

Aug 30, 2005 (Khartoum) — The Sudanese government has authorized its delegation to the next round of Darfur peace talks to conclude an agreement with the rebels, the vice president said Tuesday.

Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha spoke after meetings with the chief African Union mediator in the peace negotiations, Salim Ahmed Salim.

The AU mediates the Darfur talks and maintains some 5,000 peacekeepers in Darfur.

Salim, who also met with President Omar al-Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit, said he received assurances from them that progress would be made in the sixth round of talks, due to begin Sept. 15 in Abuja, Nigeria.

"The African Union will do its best to see to the success of the coming round of peace talks," Salim said.

Taha, who handles the Darfur file, said the government would enter the talks with the hope that this round would be the final one.

"We do really appreciate efforts exerted by the African Union and the efforts exerted by Dr. Salim in particular for finding a just settlement to this question," Taha said.

Salim stressed that the unrest in Darfur must be resolved not only for peace but also from a humanitarian standpoint.

More than 1.9 million people were forced to flee their homes since the conflict began in February 2003. War-induced hunger and disease have killed more than 180,000 people, according to U.N. estimates.

Salim, who in Khartoum early Tuesday, met with several senior government officials and is due to meet with the EU, Western and African diplomats. He travels Wednesday to Darfur and also plans to visit Chad and Libya, which he said were vital to the AU efforts for reaching a solution to the Darfur question.

He said the AU wants to see an integration of regional and international efforts with its own on trying to reach a solution for Darfur problem.

Salim said peace in Darfur is vital not only to the region but to the whole region and African in general.

In the last round of talks, in early July, the two main rebel groups signed a "declaration of principles" with the Sudanese government, agreeing to broad commitments, including respecting Sudan’s unity and upholding democracy.

The talks were to resume on Aug. 24 but one group, the Sudan Liberation Army, asked for a postponement.


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