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Darfur talks progress on more AU forces
Updated: 2004-08-26 12:23

The Sudanese government has agreed to an African Union (AU) proposal to send more AU troops to Darfur to disarm militias there.

The breakthrough came Wednesday as the AU-brokered peace talks between the government and two rebel groups from Darfur entered the third day in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

The two rebel groups, namely, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, rejected the agenda of the peace talks Tuesday, insisting the item referring to the garrisoning of rebel forces should be taken out of the agenda.

The Abuja meeting comes a week before a UN Security Council deadline for the Sudanese government to take measures to disarm the Janjaweed militia in Darfur, which was not represented at the meeting, or face possible sanctions.

The Sudanese government is represented by Agriculture Minister Mazjoub al-Khalifa Ahmed, while the two rebel groups both sent their top negotiators.

The meeting is also being attended by the leaders of Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo along with international organizations including the United Nations and the Arab League.

The meeting is another effort by the African Union to help bring about a political solution to the Darfur conflict, which hasleft some 10,000 people dead and one million others displaced.

On July 15, the African regional bloc brokered a political dialogue in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa between the Sudanese government and the two rebel groups, yet the talks collapsed due to differences on various issues.

Some 150 Rwandan troops had been deployed to protect AU monitors in Darfur and about 150 Nigerian troops are due to join them this week.

The AU had proposed increasing the number of troops to 2,000 and expanding their mandate to peacekeeping. The Sudanese government objected to any peacekeeping mandate but had said it would not object to more troops if necessary.

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