Several African leaders wrapped up a two-day summit in the Chadian capital of Ndjamena Wednesday, agreeing on steps to ensure respect of cease-fire in the western Darfur region of Sudan, which has been buffeted by political and ethnic conflicts.
They urged the joint cease-fire commission on Darfur to send a fact-finding group to verify positions taken by the opposing sides which want to draft a separation plan, said a statement released after the summit.
The participants called on mediators to "prepare the resumption of peace talks to find an agreement between the parties on the Darfur crisis," according to the statement.
They also called on the warring parties "to scrupulously respect the Ndjamena cease-fire accord of April 8, 2004 and the Abuja protocol of November 2004 on improving the humanitarian situation and bolstering security in Darfur."
After the meeting, Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir said he has "withdrawn all his bombers from Darfur," pledging to respect and implement all the agreements signed in Kenyan capital Nairobi within a federal framework to bring about peace in Darfur.
"I call on the rebels and those who back them to come to the negotiating table to find a final solution to the crisis," he added.
The summit gathered Presidents Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo, Chad's Idriss Deby and Alpha Oumar Konare, Mali's former president who is now chairman of the African Union commission.
Violence flared up in February 2003 between local farmers and militia over scarce natural resources in the western Darfur region.
After two years of clashes, during which many people were killed and more displaced, two main rebel groups began painstaking peace talks with the Sudanese government.
A cease-fire agreement had been signed between the two sides, but violations were often reported on both sides.
(Xinhua News Agency February 17, 2005)