Sudan is optimistic peace talks will resume soon
"The ongoing war and the progress that had been achieved at Machakos have created an international concern with Sudan," said Ismail, referring to the talks in Machakos, Kenya that resulted in a July protocol agreement between the two sides for an end to Sudan's 19-year civil war.
The breakdown in the talks in early September after the southern rebels took the army garrison town of Torit in Eastern Equatoria has resulted in "global pressure for a cessation of fighting and a resumption of negotiations," Ismail said.
The foreign minister also said he believed the capture of Torit by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which is made up mainly of southern Christians and animists, was no longer an obstacle to peace talks.
"What has happened in Torit is only one step backwards and in spite of it the negotiations can be resumed," Ismail said despite the government's walkout from the talks after Torit fell.
Ismail said he regarded a visit by Kenyan envoy General Lazaros Symboiya to Khartoum on Tuesday as an important one, "because we have asked him to come to Khartoum only if he is conveying satisfactory replies" to questions Khartoum has submitted to the SPLA.
Kharoum has insisted the SPLA declare a ceasefire and not insist on renegotiating aspects of the Machakos protocol.
The ruling National Congress (NC), meanwhile, regards Symboiya's visit as "a decisive" move in the peace process.
"The party and the government have fully prepared themselves for discussing what General Symboiya is conveying," NC Secretary General Ibrahim Ahmed Omar Sunday told reporters.
President Omar al-Beshir said Symboiya's visit would have "a considerable effect" on the peace efforts and expected it would "pave the way for going back to Machakos."
mas/np AFP 291817 GMT 09 02
Copyright (c) 2002 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 09/29/2002 14:18:09
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