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Six-way Summit on Darfur Starts in Libya

A six-way African summit started late Monday in the Libyan capital of Tripoli to probe means of solving the 26-month-old crisis in Sudan's western region of Darfur, the Nile TV reported.

The summit was attended by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Libyan leader Omar Muammar al-Ghaddafi, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, Eritrean President Issayas Aferwerki and Chadian President Idriss Deby. Libyan authorities said Gabon's President Omar Bongo Ondimba, who announced last week to take part in the meeting, has not arrived for a certain reason.
The summit was also attended by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and representatives from a number of regional organizations.

Obasanjo, the current African Union (AU) chairman, presided over an opening ceremony before the leaders began a closed-door meeting. The Nigerian president said the summit will focus on Darfur's peace process and means of achieving a national reconciliation in the region.

Two main Darfur rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, have chosen to stay away from the summit.

Clashes flared up in Darfur in February 2003 when local farmers took up arms against the government, accusing it of neglecting the barren area.

Thousands of people have been killed and over 1 million displaced during the violence.

A similar mini-African summit was held in Tripoli in October 2004.

Leaders from Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Nigeria and Chad voiced opposition to foreign interference in Darfur, stressing the issue should be solved within the AU framework.

(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2005)

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