Mon, Oct 29, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Darfur ceasefire talks at impasse

AP , SIRTE, LIBYA

The UN chief mediator said yesterday that Darfur peace negotiations in Libya would most likely be put on hold to allow for more time for the war-torn region's splintered rebels to regroup and reach a common position for the conference.

Jan Eliasson, the chief US envoy for a joint UN and African Union (AU) mediation team, would not say when the talks, which opened on Saturday, would adjourn, but stressed the step was necessary to allow for full-fledged negotiations between the rebels and the Sudanese government.

No major Darfur rebel chief was present in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte for the opening of the talks on Saturday, dashing hopes a quick peace agreement could be reached to end over four years of fighting with the Sudanese government.

Eliasson said more chiefs were expected to arrive in Sirte to prepare for the negotiations. Other rebel leaders want to hold their own preparatory meetings in Darfur.

The Sudanese government's delegation announced on Saturday a unilateral ceasefire.

UN officials were awaiting a notification yesterday from the rebels' absent leadership that it would abide by the ceasefire.

Niam called on the boycotting rebel leaders to join preparatory meetings so that a lasting peace could be achieved, warning otherwise against a repeat of the previous peace deal that signed in May last year to little avail.

Eliasson said he could not specify when the peace conference would adjourn, or when it would resume.

"We are pretty reluctant to set exact timelines," he said.

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