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Next round of Darfur peace talks expected to start

UN envoy in Sudan says next round of Darfur peace talks expected to start next Monday

The head of the United Nations mission in Sudan said today that he would go to western Darfur for talks with some leaders of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) in preparation for peace talks with the Government of Sudan, which are expected to start next Monday in Nigeria's capital, Abuja.

Many bilateral meetings have been taking place to ensure a smooth start to the seventh round of talks and to continue putting pressure on the rebels to adopt a constructive approach, including a meeting tomorrow in Muhajariya with SLM/A leader Mini Minawi, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Jan Pronk, told a news conference.

Mr. Pronk also pointed to the meeting of a United States delegation with Mr. Minawi and another SLM/A leader, Abdelwahid Nur, in Nairobi, Kenya, on 8 November. The US delegation and the two SLM/A leaders also met at the African Union (AU) premises in El Fasher on 19 November, he said, while he convened a meeting of Special Envoys in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on 12 November.

Mr. Pronk, who also heads the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS), said he hoped that the two SLM/A leaders would attend the talks in Abuja. The priority, as far as he was concerned, was to have an agreement with a signature "that means something," he said.

He said he would visit El Geneina in West Darfur and raise with the Governor the worrisome security situation there. Because of the insecurity the roads were still closed and the UN was still delivering humanitarian assistance by plane.

He would also discuss the heavy fighting that took place last week in the Jebel Moon area. Members of another Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), told UNAMIS that Government forces attacked them, but the Government said its operation targeted Chadian rebels.

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