CAIRO, Oct. 20, 2003 (dpa) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Monday that his government was committed to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace in the country.
The Middle East News Agency quoted the president as telling supporters in the northern Sudanese town of Atbara that he was serious about ending the country’s 20-year-old civil war.
Bashir’s comments came as government negotiators and rebels of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement were putting final touches to a broad outline of a peace agreement between the two sides.
The delegates, meeting in the Kenyan city of Naivasha, were expected to be joined by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and a number of regional leaders.
It was not clear if Powell will be there to witness the signing of a draft agreement or to exert more pressure on the sides to come up with a deal as soon as possible.
The negotiations, sponsored by the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a grouping of mostly eastern and central African countries, has the strong support of Washington.
Powell was expected to leave Kenya Wednesday for Madrid, Spain. U.S. embassy sources in Cairo said Powell would stopover in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to Spain.
The sources could not confirm an encounter between Powell and Egyptian officials during the brief stop, but said that "it was possible".
Egyptian sources did not rule out a meeting with Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak.