Home | News    Monday 8 December 2003

Bush invites Sudanese President to sign peace accord in Washington: report

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KHARTOUM, Dec 8 (AFP) — US President George W. Bush has invited his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Beshir to sign an expected peace accord with the country’s southern rebels in Washington, it was reported.

According to the state news agency SUNA, Bush telephoned Beshir and proposed that "the signing ceremony for a peace accord between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) take place in Washington."

The White House, meanwhile, said Bush on Monday telephoned both Beshir and SPLA leader John Garang asking them to resolve final differences ahead of a peace accord.

"Both calls were upbeat and positive," said spokesman Scott McClellan, adding that Bush "congratulated each leader on the progress made thus far" in the peace process.

"The president encouraged each side to demonstrate the flexibility to resolve their remaining differences and take the final steps to complete a just and comprehensive peace agreement," the White House spokesman said.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said last week that an agreement would be "signed at the end of the current year".

Vice President Ali Osman Taha and Garang on Sunday began talks in Kenya aimed at finalising an accord.

Since 1983, a civil war has pitted the SPLA, representing mainly animists and Christians in southern Sudan, against successive Arab and Muslim governments in Khartoum.

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