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Sudanese leaders to discuss Abyei

KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 14 (UPI) -- A decision by parties in Sudan to discuss solutions to simmering disputes in the border region of Abyei is a welcome measure, the U.N. Mission in Sudan said.

Both sides in the disputed area of Abyei agreed to form a joint committee to oversee the deployment of forces from North and South Sudan. The agreement follows a January move that calls for the withdrawal of illegal forces in the area.

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Fighting between rival Sudanese nomad groups killed at least 10 people in the oil-rich region of Abyei during the first week of March. Both sides blame the other for the dispute. The Dinka Ngok tribe claims the region belongs to the south while Khartoum-backed Misseriya nomads pledge allegiance to the north. They are fighting over grazing rights for cattle.

UNMIS said in a statement it welcomed the decision to back earlier agreements for peace in the disputed region.

Abyei was to take part in a January referendum for South Sudan's secession, but the matter was delayed over voting rights.

The joint committee holds its first meeting Monday.

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