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Tandja talks with rebels show progress

NIAMEY, Niger, May 5 (UPI) -- A recent meeting between Niger's president and rebel leaders is being praised by the United Nations, which called the talks a step toward conflict resolution.

Niger President Mamadou Tandja and leaders from the rebel Tuareg group recently held discussions as part of an effort to address the ongoing conflict in the north of the country. Tuareg rebels have been fighting the Niger government over the country's uranium riches.

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According to a U.N. news release, Tandja "offered an amnesty if the rebels … laid down their weapons."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Tandja's talks with the rebels a positive sign for the country's future stability. Ban encouraged Tandja and rebel leaders to continue a dialogue "in order to resolve all outstanding issues," a spokesperson for the secretary-general said.

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