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Darfur foes pledge talks as Annan slams war hell
Updated: 2005-02-18 10:15

Warring parties in Sudan's Darfur agreed on Thursday to revive stalled peace talks after U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged firm action to end a conflict he described as near hell on earth.

A statement after talks between rebels and Sudanese government officials in Chad's capital N'Djamena said the parties had agreed to prepare for "the rapid and vigorous resumption" of peace talks.

It said the talks would be attended by high-level representatives in order to swiftly reach an accord.

It also said the parties had agreed to a "total and definitive ceasefire" and asked that the African Union (AU) reinforce its peacekeeping mission in Darfur "so that the Darfur crisis is resolved in an African framework."

The declaration came after Annan urged the U.N. Security Council to take immediate steps to stop the war in western Sudan, which has killed at least 70,000 people since March and displaced 2 million.

Full-blown peace talks between the warring parties in Nigeria's capital Abuja had been stalled since December.

The statement in N'Djamena gave no firm date for new talks but Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, current chair of the 53-member African Union, said on Wednesday he hoped they would start again in Abuja at the end of February.

The N'Djamena agreement was reached between Sudanese government officials and Darfur's two main rebel groups -- the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement.

The parties to the talks also agreed a verification team would be sent to Darfur to map out the positions of the belligerents with a view to separating these forces -- a move previously rejected by the rebel groups.

Both sides agreed to cooperate fully with the team.

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