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AU denies postponement of Abuja talks - report

Nov 20, 2005 (KHARTOUM) — The spokesman of the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), Noureddine Mezni, has dismissed media reports that AU has postponed the seventh session of the Abuja peace talks by one week due to logistical reasons.

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Noureddine Mezni

He said the seventh Abuja peace talks will be held on 28 November instead of 21 November.

Mezni said to the Sudanese Radio "I would like to confirm that the seventh session of the Abuja talks will be on 21 November 2005 and I would like to add that the AU, at its different levels, is making the final preparations for this session". I am now in Al-Fashir, capital of Northern Darfur State accompanying the head of the AU mission in Sudan, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, as well as the AU official in charge of negotiations, he further added.

Mezni, you said you were now trying to bring closer the different views held by the two SLM groups. How far have the AU efforts reached in this regard?

We are optimistic that all sides will give priority to the greater interest for this noble cause to reach the desired peaceful agreement, which will hopefully end the long suffering of the Darfur people, the AMIS spokesperson said .

Have you sought the views of the different parties on their participation in this round of talks?

Yes, up to now all sides have agreed to attend and we hope that the parties will fulfil their promises for the sake of reaching the desired peace, Mezni replied

What would you like to tell the armed movements, which are going to participate in this round of talks while still holding different views?

I have said that we have been trying for sometime to minimize the differences so that the different factions can come to an agreement and are able to attend the talks while holding similar views. This will ease our work as the AU and as mediators.

(ST)