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Darfur Peace Talk in Nigeria Ends Without Progress

Peace talks between the Sudanese government and two rebel groups from Darfur ended here Friday without agreement, but the government pledged in a statement it will stick to the terms of an oft-violated ceasefire for the war-ravaged region.

The talks, in the Nigerian capital Abuja, were aimed at ending the conflicts in Darfur, west Sudan, described by the United Nations as the world's current worst humanitarian crisis, which has left more than 10,000 dead and one million others displaced since 19 months ago.

Najib Abdulwahab, Sudan's minister of state for foreign affairs, blamed the United States for poisoning "the talks environment and sent wrong signals to the rebels who immediately stiffened their positions."

But he said the two sides would reconvene after a period of one month to try and hammer out a deal on humanitarian and security issues.

After the African Union brokered talks collapsed, the government negotiators issued a statement pledging Sudan's "strictad herence to the ceasefire on land and air, and the commitment to secure and facilitate humanitarian access without any restriction, and make the life in Darfur easier and better."

The government also promised to open roads to civilians and allow free movement of people, according to the statement, issued at the talks' site in Abuja.

On July 15, the African Union brokered a political dialogue in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa between the Sudanese government and the two rebel groups, yet the talks collapsed due to differences on various issues.

The Abuja meeting, which opened on Aug. 23, is another effort by the 53-nation African bloc to help bring about a political solution to the crisis in Darfur.

(Xinhua News Agency September 18, 2004)

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