Home | News    Sunday 15 April 2007

Chad wants peace with Sudan - Chad FM

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April 14, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — Chad’s foreign minister on Saturday said his country wanted to turn the page on soured relations with Sudan after deadly border clashes earlier in the week. The minister requested Sudan’s cooperation to contain rebels.

"Chad wants peace and to turn the page with Sudan," Ahmat Allami told journalists after handing President Omar al-Beshir a letter from Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno explaining the circumstances of the April 9 clashes.

Ahmat Allam-Mi was in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Saturday to meet Sudanese President Omar Hassan-al Bashir after a border clash which left several dead.

Relations between the two countries nosedived after the fighting which Sudan said killed 17 of its soldiers and the Chadians say killed 30 overall.

Allami said a committee had been set up in Chad to determine who was responsible for the clashes but repeated his position that Chadian forces went into Sudan to pursue rebels.

He proposed setting up an accord that would allow Chad to pursue what he called Sudan-based rebels back into Sudan.

"We apologised but we can’t say the responsibility was ours alone. The (Sudanese) forces were not supposed to be in that area. But I don’t believe the other side has the same view of what happened there," said Allam-Mi.

"If these groups, these mercenaries, hit us again, we will go after them wherever they go, and we hope the Sudanese brothers permit us to go after them into Sudan because they are the ones causing problems."

Sudanese foreign ministry official Abdelrahman Mokhtar said that in the letter Deby had apologised for the incursion and said he wanted to "turn over a new page in relations between the two countries."

Some Sudanese officials had threatened retaliation, but others also hinted that they had accepted a Chadian apology. The

"President Beshir was understanding and affirmed his desire to work with Mr Deby Itno to bury the differences" between the two countries. He said Deby also expressed his desire to visit Khartoum.

Libya sent its number two diplomat Abdelsalam Triki to both capitals in a bid to ease tensions, obtaining a commitment on Thursday from Beshir to maintain good relations with the neighbouring country.

Chad has apologised for the cross-border action of its forces, explaining that it was not deliberate and that they were in hot pursuit of rebels who had just attacked several Chadian villages.

Chad and Sudan accuse each other of supporting rebel forces in their respective territories amid international fears that the continuing strife in Sudan’s western Darfur region will spill over into Chad and ignite a regional war.

Officials from the African Union, whose peacekeepers have failed to ease violence in Darfur, say the conflict cannot be resolved unless hostilities cease on the Sudan-Chad border.

Libya, to the north, has intervened in an effort to lower tensions between the two oil-producing neighbours, who are engaged in negotiations with the United Nations over plans to deploy peacekeepers in Darfur and eastern Chad.

Libya said this week it and Eritrea had deployed military and security observers on the Chad-Sudan border.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is currently in Sudan and is due to visit Chad and Libya on a regional tour to discuss the crisis in Darfur, which he visited on Saturday.

(AFP/Reuters)

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