Home | News    Tuesday 16 November 2004

Bush presses Sudan parties to reach peace deal


WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (AFP) — US President George W. Bush urged both President Omar el-Bashir of Sudan and that country’s main rebel leader to reach a peace deal when negotiations resume in late November, the White House said.

"It’s imperative that the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement conclude the comprehensive peace agreement when talks resume later this month," spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

Bush delivered that message in separate telephone conversations with Bashir and John Garang, who heads the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), ahead of negotiations scheduled to resume on November 26.

"Only through a comprehensive north-south political settlement can we reasonably expect to reach a genuine peace in Sudan, including resolution of the conflict in Darfur. We expect to see renewed commitment to this objective when talks resume," said McClellan.

"And it’s also important that all parties in the region continue to work to end the violence and help the people of Darfur get the humanitarian assistance that they need," said McClellan.

In his conversation with Bashir, Bush also "urged the government of Sudan to halt the Janjaweed violence and allow for the arrival of more African Union troops," said McClellan.

The Khartoum government and the Darfur region’s two rebel movements agreed to a truce in April, but both sides accuse the other of repeated ceasefire violations, complicating peace talks taking place in Abuja and delaying the deployment of an expanded African truce-monitoring force.

The pro-Khartoum Janjaweed militia have been blamed for atrocities against African farmers in Darfur, including massacres, rape and destruction of villages, which the United States has branded a genocide.

The UN Security Council has threatened to impose sanctions against Sudan unless it reins in the Arab militia fighters.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Darfur and 1.4 million people have fled their homes since the two rebel groups rose up against Khartoum in February 2003.

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