Home | News    Wednesday 16 July 2003

Egypt’s Maher, U.S. envoy Danforth discuss peace efforts in Sudan

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CAIRO, July 16, 2003 (dpa) — Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher met Wednesday with the visiting United States envoy John Danforth for discussions on ongoing efforts to mediate an end to the 20-year-old Sudanese civil war.

The official Middle East News Agency (MENA) said the talks focused on the collapse of the latest round of peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The talks, mediated by the Kenya-based Intergovernment Authority on Development (IGAD), broke off over differences between the two sides regarding peace proposals put forward by IGAD mediators.

Sudanese negotiators complained that the proposals contradicted the spirit of a memorandum of understanding they signed with the rebels in July last year and claimed that the IGAD proposals encouraged southern Sudan to secede from the north.

The Sudanese government further called on the IGAD to withdraw the proposals.

MENA quoted Maher as stressing to the U.S. envoy the need for the IGAD to display "neutrality" as it goes about mediating a solution to the Sudanese conflict. He also renewed his country’s opposition to the secession of the south.

Danforth told the Egyptian minister that his role was to help narrow differences between the two sides and that the U.S. will continue to support the IGAD in its efforts.

He also assured the Egyptian side that the document presented by the IGAD was only a draft and was subject to further negotiations.

SPLM rebels have fought successive regimes in Khartoum over the past two decades for greater autonomy for the mainly animist and Christian south from the Arabized, Moslem north.

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