U.N., AU hold new talks on Darfur

April 21, 2008 at 4:33 PM

KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 21 (UPI) -- The United Nations and the African Union have been meeting with Sudanese government officials and rebel leaders in an effort to forge a peace deal.

Despite a recent report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying that the prospects for a peace deal in the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan are dim, U.N. and AU officials say they have been meeting with leaders from groups that have not signed previous peace accords in an effort to jump-start stalled peace negotiations, the United Nations reported.

Officials say discussions have been held with Khalil Ibrahim, head of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement in West Darfur, and separately with members of the Sudan Liberation Movement's Abdul Wahid group. The talks with U.N. representative Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim of the AU were an effort to bring groups and movements not previously involved in peace discussions to the table.

Eliasson and Salim said that the there can be no peace agreements until fighting has stopped and stressed that "a reduction in violence is vital if progress is to be made on the political front," the release said.

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