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AU team visits Sudan to check positions of Darfur warring parties

5/16/2005 9:50am

KHARTOUM, May 15 (AFP) -- An African Union (AU) team has arrived in Khartoum to verify the positions of government troops and rebels in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, the AU spokesman in Sudan said.

The team held talks with the head of the AU mission in Sudan (AMIS), Baba Gana Kingibe, and is due to travel to Darfur on Monday to "start on the verification mission", Nourreddine Mezni told AFP.

The team is led by the chairman of the joint ceasefire committee, General Mahamet Ali.

The AU aims to verify that both government and rebel forces have redeployed to the lines they held when they signed a much-broken ceasefire in neighboring Chad on April 6, 2004.

The Sudanese government announced late last month that it withdrawn its troops from four positions in Darfur.

And the two main rebel movements in Darfur announced last Friday they were ready to resume talks with Khartoum to end a war with government-backed militia that has killed at some 300,000 people and displaced two million others.

Mezni said the head of the AU mediation team in Sudan, Sam Ibok, was due in to Khartoum soon for talks with the government on preparations for a resumption of talks in the Nigerian capital.

The two main ethnic minority rebel groups -- the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement -- are however to stay away from a summit on Darfur to be hosted by Libya this week.

The leaders of Chad, Egypt, Nigeria, Gabon and Sudan as well as Libya and the AU are due to attend the two-day meeting which starts on Monday.

The rebels have accused the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum of pursuing a "war of extermination" against Darfur's indigenous minorities since they launched an uprising two years ago.

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