Home | News    Wednesday 22 October 2003

US Secretary of State meets key actors in Sudan talks


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US Secretary of State Colin Powell shakes hands at the end of his press briefing in Naivasha, Kenya, with Sudan First Vice Presidend Ali Osman Tahah (R) while Kenya Prime Minister Kalonzo Musoka (L) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement chairman John Garang are watching. Mr. Powell came to Nivasha to express the US support to the Sudan Peace Process thet will hopefully stop a twenty years long civil war in Africa’s biggest country. Marco Longari, AFP.

NAIVASHA, Kenya, Oct 22 (AFP) — US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday began meeting with key actors in the Sudanese peace talks in Kenya, which are aimed ending the country’s 20-year civil war, Africa’s longest running conflict.

Powell travelled the 80 kilometers (50 miles) to Naivasha by car from the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

He held talks with Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka and was due to meet Lazaro Sumbeiywo, the Kenyan general who has been mediating the talks, before having discussions with Sudan’s Vice President Ali Osman Taha and John Garang, the leader of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Taha and Garang have since Friday been engaged in what has been portrayed as a final push toward a comprehensive agreement to end a war that has killed 1.5 million people, including many who died from war-related famine since 1983.

Tuesday’s talks between Taha and Garang ran until after midnight.

Shortly before arriving in Nairobi on Tuesday, Powell said Washington was ready "to invest all that we can" diplomatically and politically into the peace process and that it would launch a sweeping review of its sanctions-heavy Sudan policy should an agreement be reached.

"We now have a window of opportunity, a moment that must not be lost," he said, urging Khartoum and southern rebels to act "quickly and aggressively" to reach a deal.

"Sudan has suffered too long, too many people have died," the US official told reporters after meeting with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday afternoon.

During the current round the talks the leaders are addressing the thorny issues of how to share power and wealth from Sudan’s vast oil reserves, based mainly in the south of the country.

Natural resources such as oil have in recent years played a more central role in the conflict.

The last round of talks ended in late September when Taha and Garang signed a deal on the security arrangements to be put in place during a six-year, post-war period of autonomy for the south ahead of a referendum on whether to remain part of Sudan or secede.

That period of autonomy was clinched in July 2002.

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