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Direct talks on South Kordofan and Blue Nile to begin next week, SPLM-N says

April 15, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Direct talks between Sudanese government and Sudan people’s Liberation Movement- North (SPLM-N) to settle South Kordofan and Blue Nile conflict will start on 23 April, announced the rebel group on Monday.

The spokesperson of the SPLM-N negotiating team, Zeinab Mahmoud Al-Dawi, released a statement saying that the movement’s chairman Malik Agar received an invitation extended by the chief mediator Thabo Mbeki.

She further said that they accepted the invitation and a 15-member delegation led by SPLM-N’s Secretary general Yasir Arman will participate in the talks.

The head of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on foreign relations, Ibrahim Ghandour, announced Sunday the readiness of his government to start direct negotiations with the SPLM-N.

Khartoum, in the past refused talks with the SPLM-N saying they are still linked to a foreign party -South Sudan ruling SPLM- and asked the latter to disengage with them before any political process.

Sudan and South Sudan started since last March the implementation of a Cooperation Agreement inked in September 2012. The deal, which includes nine protocols, aims to establish a buffer zone and resume the exportation of South Sudan oil but also includes measures to stop support to rebel groups from both sides.

Zeinab said the talks will be held on the basis of UN resolution 2046, African Union resolutions and the Cooperation Agreement.

The rebel group proposed to sign a cessation of hostilities agreement to facilitate the implementation of the security arrangements between Khartoum and Juba particularly the activation of the demilitarized zone.

Also the SPLM-N demands to allow immediate humanitarian access to civilians in the rebel held areas.

Sudan and the SPLM-N signed last August a humanitarian agreement based on a proposal made by the United Nations, African Union and Arab league but they failed to implement it. The two parties disagree on how to control the distribution of food.

(ST)