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US diplomat to discuss peace with Darfur rebels

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January 16, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Dane Smith, US Senior Advisor for Darfur, will meet with Darfur rebels to discuss ways to achieve peace with the government and to end their armed revolt, which started in the region about nine years ago.

The US diplomat disclosed the information on Monday after a meeting with the North Darfur governor, Osman Kibir, in El Fasher, where he participated in the second meeting of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) Implementation Follow-Up Commission.

Dane told reporters that he will head from Darfur to Kampala, Kigali and Abuja to meet Minni Minnawi, the leader of a Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels, who are preparing to elect a new leader after the death of Khalil Ibrahim.

He stressed that he will encourage them to join the ongoing efforts to end the armed conflict in Darfur. He also reiterated that the rebels claims that they plan to topple the regime will not help bring peace to Darfur, or the rest of the country.

The US Special Envoy Princeton Lyman, and Smith, believe that the coalition between the Darfur rebels and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) and their plans to overthrow the regime could maintain the tension between Sudan and South Sudan and lead to war in the region.

Smith said the US administration encouraged non-signatories to develop political objectives on the basis of the DDPD, stressing that this framework document contains the key elements for peace in Darfur.

He also called on the Sudanese government to show more flexibility with the rebels, stressing that the persistent calls for peace from Darfurians and the international community should be seen as positive factors to push the parties towards dialogue.

The follow-up meeting called on the Darfur rebels to commit themselves to a negotiated solution based on the DDPD and "expressed deep concern about the belligerent rhetoric" of the groups who are holding out and their calls to violently overthrow the government.

The Qatari state minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud said in a press conference after the meeting that all the members of the follow-up commission reiterated their support to the Doha document

The follow-up meeting, held at the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNMAID) premises, was attended by the Burkina Faso foreign minister and former joint mediator Djibril Bassolé, Chad’s foreign minister Moussa Faki and a number of diplomats from the EU, China, Russia and African and Arab states.

(ST)