Home | News    Wednesday 16 July 2003

US envoy visits Sudan amid peace talks deadlock

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KHARTOUM, July 16 (AFP) — US peace envoy John Danforth held talks here Wednesday following the Sudanese government’s rejection of US-backed proposals to end the country’s 20-year-old civil war.

Presidential peace advisor Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani declined to speak to reporters after his meeting with Danforth who went straight into talks with Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail.

The US senator arrived here for the 24-hour visit earlier in the day after talks in Cairo with Egyptian officials.

Khartoum pulled out of peace talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Kenya Sunday after rejecting US-backed east African peace proposals accepted by the southern rebel group.

On Monday, Khartoum called on the Arab League and Egypt to intervene to persuade both southern rebels and regional mediatiors to review their positions.

In Cairo earlier Wednesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher called for more "balanced" proposals to be put forward in the face of Khartoum’s continued rejection.

The proposals should be "balanced to encourage the continuation of negotiations and not the contrary," Maher told reporters after talks with Danforth.

It is essential that "any initiative concerning the solution (of the conflict) favours a united Sudan in which people can access land and wealth fairly," Maher said.

The SPLA has been fighting since 1983 to end domination of the mainly Christian and animist south by the Arab Muslim government in Khartoum.

An outline peace plan agreed by both Khartoum and the SPLA last year forsees seven years of self-rule by the south before a referendum on independence.

The Khartoum authorities meanwhile confiscated all copies of the independent al-Wifaq daily late Tuesday after it published an article calling for separation of southern Sudan, a press source said.

The newspaper, run by an Islamist chief editor, was confiscated for publishing an article the previous day advocating the secession of the south on the grounds that it constituted a burden to the north.

The same article, written by National Telecommunication Corporation general manager al-Tayen Mustafa Abdel Rahman, also led to the confiscation of copies of the independent Akhbar Al-Youm and Alwan dailies, the source said.

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