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U.N. upbeat on Darfur peace prospects

Jan. 25, 2013 at 11:05 AM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- There's been a breakthrough in Darfur as rival factions reach an agreement on the agenda for peace talks, a U.N. peacekeeping official said.

Edmond Mulet, assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told the U.N. Security Council that the Sudanese government and a rebel faction of the Justice and Equality Movement have agreed to the preliminary agenda for peace talks.

The United Nations estimates that tribal fighting in the Sudanese region of Darfur left as many as 100 people dead and two dozen villages destroyed in early January. The fighting between rival herding communities left close to 100,000 people displaced.

Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, permanent representative of Sudan to the United Nations, added there were regional spoilers playing a "destructive role" in the region, however.

Developments in Darfur come as South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrived Friday in Ethiopia for peace talks.

South Sudan gained independence in 2011 as part of a peace agreement that ended the Sudanese civil war. Ethnic conflict, border skirmishes and disputes over oil have threatened the fragile peace, however.

This week, Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said in a statement that Washington was "disappointed" that neither side has lived up to its agreements.

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