Home | News    Monday 21 June 2004

Sudanese government to hold talks with Darfur rebels in Germany

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KHARTOUM, Sudan, June 21, 2004 (AP) — A Sudanese government delegation left for Germany Monday for peace talks with the representatives of the rebels in the western province of Darfur, a Cabinet minister said.

The talks have been arranged by German mediators and should begin Tuesday in Berlin, Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmad told reporters.

Ahmad didn’t identify the mediators. In Berlin, the German Foreign Ministry said it had no scheduled meeting with a Sudanese government delegation.

Previously the government and Darfur rebels have held talks in Switzerland sponsored by the Henry Dunant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Tuesday’s talks aim to "find a final solution to the Darfur crisis, stop the bloodshed and bring peace to the region," Ahmad said.

The government delegation will be led by Ibrahim Omar, the secretary general of the ruling Congress Party, Ahmad said.

The rebellion that began in February 2003 has killed thousands of people and displaced an estimated 1 million Sudanese, mostly into desert terrain along the border with Chad. The U.N. has described Darfur as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.

Saturday, Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir ordered the military to begin disarming all militia groups.

The government is accused of backing the Janjaweed militia, an Arab faction that has conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Sudanese of African origin, according to human rights groups. The government denies the charge.

The government and the two main rebel groups signed a cease-fire in April, but each side has accused the other of violating it.

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