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UN, AU Envoys Meet With Darfur Rebel Alliance

UN, AU envoys meet with key Darfur rebel alliance

A key rebel alliance today told the United Nations and African Union (AU) Special Envoys for Darfur that it is ready to work with the newly-deployed hybrid peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID.

The Envoys, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, held a four-hour meeting in an undisclosed location in the north-west of the war-ravaged Sudanese region with the United Resistance Front (URF), a grouping of several of Darfur's splintering movements.

In today's meeting - the first between the URF and the Special Envoys - the alliance said that it is prepared to work with the UNAMID force, and asked that a formal meeting be convened to clarify the deployment and role of the peacekeepers.

The URF leadership also noted that it is prepared to present its political and military structure as promised late last year in Juba, in southern Sudan.

Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim, who are on the second day of their visit to Darfur, visited a market and school while in the area, and commended the movements' unification efforts, which the Special Envoys believe are crucial for the peace process to succeed.

They will continue touring the region tomorrow, with a scheduled visit with commanders of Abdul Wahid's faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

Meanwhile, the head of UNAMID today met with Sudan's new Minister of Foreign Affairs in a bid to bolster understanding and cooperation between the two sides.

Rodolphe Adada, who also serves as UN/AU Joint Special Representative, paid a courtesy call to Deng Alor, and the two agreed to maintain regular contacts to remove obstacles to the smooth deployment of the new mission and to push the ongoing Darfur peace process forward.

Stressing that UNAMID is the result of a partnership among the UN, AU and Sudanese Government, Mr. Adada noted during the meeting that close cooperation is crucial for the hybrid peacekeeping force to succeed in bringing an end to the violence that continues to plague the region.

Mr. Alor assured the Special Representative that Darfur is one of the Government's top priorities, and that the Foreign Ministry has been tasked with reconciling Sudan with the international community through dialogue to improve confidence and dispel any suspicions.

ENDS

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