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Sudan: UN special envoy to speed up peace talks

Sudan: UN special envoy to travel to Abuja to speed up peace talks in Darfur

Stepping up efforts to reach a peace agreement in Sudan’s Darfur region by the end of the year, the top United Nations envoy to the country will be travelling to Abuja, Nigeria, on Friday for weekend consultations among the parties to the peace talks and the African Union (AU) mediation.

Special Representative to the Secretary-General Jan Pronk told a press briefing in Khartoum that he remained optimistic that the parties will reach a peace settlement by year's end to the conflict that has raged in the Darfur region since 2003 between Government forces, allied militias and rebels.

He noted that so far the warring factions have remained at the table during the six rounds of peace talks held in Abuja, and have agreed to discuss security and ceasefire-related issues using the UN framework. Beyond the upcoming weekend negotiations, the special envoy will return to Abuja in October for more talks.

Because of intermittent rebel and militia activity, Mr. Pronk strongly urged the Security Council to beef up the AU forces from 5,000 to roughly 12,000 in anticipation of creating a safe trip home for the many internally displaced persons (IDPs) now staying in camps.

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