Sudan

Sudan government and Darfur rebel groups resume peace talks

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Abuja (dpa) - The government of Sudan and two rebel groups from the embattled Darfur region have restarted peace talks in the Nigerian capital of Abuja after about a half year pause.

The Chairman of the Commission of the African Union (A.U.), Alpha Oumar Konare on Friday in Abuja expressed his hopes that ''this phase of talks will be the last one''.

Sudanese Minister of Agriculture Maghzoub El-Khalifa said the Sudan delegations presence in Abuja reaffirmed Khartoums absolute commitment to reaching peace in the Darfur region where rebel troops had been fighting the government over issues of equitable sharing of power and national wealth.

''We are optimistic that at the end of this fifth session of peace talks, we shall reach a resolution of the crisis to the satisfaction of the peoples of Sudan, the African Union and the rest of the international community,'' El-Khalifa said.

Waheed Al-Nur, leader of the Darfur rebel group SLM said: ''We are keen, serious and sure that a definite agreement will be reached at this round of talks if Khartoum is as ready as we are'', adding however that Khartoum was still violating an April 2004 ceasefire agreement.

Declaring the talks open, African Union Chairman Nigerias President Olusegun Obasanjo enjoined all parties to refrain from further violence and to abide by agreements entered into in the first four rounds of the talks.

He said that efforts made in the past to restore peace to Darfur had not been fruitful as continuous violations of agreements ensured that instability remained.

The conflict in the Darfur has claimed the lives of around 300,000 people according to estimates of aid organizations.

Observers consider the agreement signed in January between the government and the southern Sudanese rebel group Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) would be a model for solution to the conflict in western Sudan's Darfur region.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union announced their readiness to provide aircraft from the transport of A.U. peacekeeping troops, who are to grow to nearly 8,000 by September.

Meanwhile, the United Nations mission to southern Sudan postponed troop deployment as several countries have not fulfilled their agreements in addition to the Sudanese government not having demonstrated itself particularly cooperative, the U.N. announced. dpa uk ah mga sc

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