Sudan UN envoy urges Darfur peace talks to reach settlement on political

All sides to the conflict engulfing Sudan’s Darfur region should take advantage of the momentum generated by international focus on the region and settle their political differences at peace talks now taking place in Nigeria, the senior United Nations envoy for Sudan said today.Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, returns to Khartoum today after a three-day visit to Abuja, where African Union (AU) mediators are holding a fresh round of Darfur negotiations.In his own meetings with representatives of the Sudanese Government and Darfur’s rebel groups, Mr. Pronk sought ways for them to advance the talks, according to a UN spokesman.The envoy also met with Nigerian President and AU Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo.He “strongly recommended” that the parties capitalize on the momentum from the attention of the international community on the situation in Sudan and especially Darfur, where more than 1.65 million people have been forced to leave their homes and tens of thousands of people have been killed or have died of hunger or disease, spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press in New York.The latest round of AU-mediated talks began on Friday after a previous round of negotiations stalled on political issues.Mr. Pronk urged Khartoum and the rebels to implement the humanitarian protocol – which they have endorsed but not formally signed – as soon as possible so that the security situation in Darfur can improve and humanitarian relief can be delivered more quickly.Last week the AU’s Peace and Security Council agreed to expand the size and mandate of its ceasefire monitoring mission in Sudan. The mission will be increased from the current level of 465 staff to at least 3,100 military and civilian personnel, and the troops will have a mandate to protect civilians and to help facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

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