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African Union’s Darfur peace talks to restart in early May

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LAGOS, April 23 (AFP) — The African Union will reconvene its faltering peace talks between the Sudanese government and the Darfur region’s rebel groups in the first two weeks of May, a spokeswoman for the AU chairman said Saturday.

Remi Oyo, spokeswoman for President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, told AFP by telephone from the Africa-Asia Summit in Jakarta that a decision was made after a meeting in Egypt with the Sudanese, Egyptian and Ethiopian presidents.

"The talks should resume in the first half of next month in Abuja," she said, adding that Obasanjo had discussed the crisis on Saturday with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is also at the summit in Indonesia.

Sudan’s arid and impoverished western region of Darfur has been in the grip of civil war for more than two years, after black African groups rebelled against what they see as persecution from Khartoum’s Arab-led government.

Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed and more than a million driven from their homes, most of them by government-backed militias.

The African Union has brokered a shaky ceasefire and sent a small force of military observers, but has struggled to find a political solution and three previous rounds of talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja made little progress.

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