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Darfur peace talks to resume within two weeks

5/17/2005 9:36am

TRIPOLI, May 17 (AFP) -- An African mini-summit in Tripoli on peace efforts for Sudan's war-torn Darfur region was due to end on Tuesday with an agreement to resume talks between Khartoum and rebels within the next two weeks in Nigeria.

African leaders at the seven-way summit in Tripoli also offered strong political support to Sudan's government, ignoring calls by Darfur's ethnic minority rebels to try the presumed perpetrators of war crimes in international courts.

"The Abuja negotiations should be resumed by the end of the month", Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir told reporters.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said official talks would kick off on June 1.

A final date was expected to be announced later on Tuesday when the two-day meeting officially closes.

The summit brought together Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Chad's President Idriss Deby, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Eritrea's Isaias Afeworki, Beshir, as well as Gabon's vice president, Didjob Divungi di Ndinge.

"All the countries represented at the summit agreed to send delegations to attend the Abuja talks and contribute in narrowing the views between the negotiators," Beshir said.

Darfur's two main rebels, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), did not attend the summit in Tripoli, although their representatives were in town. But the SLM reiterated its "readiness for serious and responsible negotiations in Abuja under the auspices of the African Union".

It also underscored a "commitment to implement all agreements with Khartoum, including the ceasefire".

African Union-sponsored negotiations in the Nigerian capital have been suspended since December because of repeated violations of the ceasefire signed under the mediation of Chad in April 2004.

Before the summit opened, the SLM urged participants to pressure Khartoum to "implement all United Nations' resolutions" so that "Sudan does not become a safe haven for criminals".

The UN Security Council demanded last March the prosecution in the International Court of Justice in The Hague of presumed war criminals in Darfur.

A two-year-old government crackdown on an uprising by Darfur's ethnic rebels has left more than 300,000 dead and 2.4 million people displaced, according to a British parliamentary report.

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