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Darfur peace talks to resume before end of May – Qatari minister

May 16, 2010 (DOHA) — Darfur peace talks will resume during the last week of the current month of May, announced today the Qatari state foreign minister following a meeting held in Doha with the Sudanese government delegation.

 Qatari state minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Mahmud speaks with former Sudanese President Abdel-Rahman Siwar Al-Dhab (L) during adonor conference for Darfur last March in Cairo (AFP)Amin Hassan Omer, the head of the Sudanese government delegation arrived yesterday to the Qatari capital Doha. He met on Sunday with the state minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Mahmud, and the African Union-United Nations Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole to discuss the resumption of the peace negotiations.

"Darfur peace negotiations will resume in Doha before the end of May, particularly in the last week of the current month," Al-Mahmud told reporters following the meeting. He further said that the Sudanese delegation had reaffirmed government’s commitment to the peace process.

The minister said mediation discussed with the Sudanese delegation, the agenda of the forthcoming negotiations, and will issue an invitation to the concerned parties, including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to restart negotiations.

JEM has suspended its participation in the political process accusing Khartoum of breaching a truce agreed by the two parties last February. The Sudanese army and the rebel group clashed several times since last March. Yesterday the army said had captured a key stronghold area from the rebels but JEM said they had voluntarily evacuated Jebel Moon.

Al-Mahmud also echoed a call launched by the chief mediator urging the two parties to observe the cessation of hostilities agreement inked in Doha on February 23. He added that the political solution is the only possible option to end the seven year conflict.

Asked wither the Egyptian government seeks to create an alternative venue for the peace process, the minister said Egypt is a member of a joint African Arab ministerial committee that had chosen Doha as venue for peace talks to achieve in Darfur .

He further said that JEM rebels also reiterated their commitment to Doha as host country for the peace process.

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease, and that another 2.7 million have fled their homes, since 2003 after the eruption of the conflict.

The government, however, puts the Darfur death toll at 10,000 people.

(ST)