Delegates from the Sudanese government and rebel groups eventually restarted in Abuja on Monday the peace talks for the war-torn Darfur region after a month of suspension, in the hope of ending a 20-month-old conflict there.
"We are now in a better position to resolve all the issues. We are going to negotiate all the issues, even it means breaking into groups," said Ibrahim Mohammed Ibrahim, spokesman for the government delegation, outside the Abuja International Conference Center, the venue of the African Union (AU)-sponsored talks.
Ibrahim said that the government delegation was in the Nigerian capital of Abuja with an open mind, adding that Khartoum had mandated them to do everything possible to solve the problems in Darfur.
He expressed optimism that something definite would come out of the renewed discussions as both sides were closer and knew each other more than before. "You can see that the atmosphere is better. The delegates are now friendlier among themselves. So we are sure to reach an agreement that would end the bloodshed in our land."
On his part, the spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the two rebel groups in Darfur, Ahmed Mohammed Tugod, expressed optimism about the possible outcome of the fresh round of talks.
"We hope we'll resolve the humanitarian and security issues and make a breakthrough in the political question," he said. "We are here sincerely and with an open mind toward bringing peace to Darfur."
Tugod said that rebels declined to endorse the humanitarian protocol in September because the government merely wanted to release the pressure from the international community.
He accused Khartoum of already building up toward a military solution by violating the ceasefire agreements.
The delegates then went into a close-door session at 11:00 AM (1000 GMT).
The first round of the Abuja talks ran between Aug. 23 and Sept. 17, but ended without major breakthrough.
The talks are yet another effort by the AU to solve African problems by Africans. The 53-member bloc has made headway into resolving the Darfur conflict since a summit in Ethiopia in July, but the process remained slow.
Clashes in Sudan's Darfur flared up in February 2003, and has so far caused thousands of deaths and sent about one million fleeing to neighboring Chad or internally displaced.
(Xinhua News Agency October 26, 2004)