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US Urges Peace Deal on Sudan's Darfur
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The United States urged on Sunday the Sudanese parties to reach a peace agreement to end the violence and suffering in the Darfur region.
"The United States believes that a critical step to end the violence and suffering afflicting the people of Darfur is a peace agreement between the government of Sudan and the rebel groups," Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said in a statement.
The statement said that the African Union (AU), backed by the United Nations and other international parties, set an April 30 deadline for completing the negotiations among the warring parties. "This deadline has proven useful to press agreement on certain issues and sharpen the focus on remaining differences," the statement said.

"Negotiators from all sides have been working diligently to find a way forward. The parties have made progress, and we and the AU believe it is possible for them to reach an accord. We are urging the parties to finalize the agreement right away," the statement added.
The statement came as the Darfur rebels rejected the AU-proposed peace deal and a midnight deadline expired on Sunday.
The AU, which brokered the Abuja talks, had set midnight April 30 as the deadline for the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebels to wrap up their two-year long negotiations.
Although the Sudanese government has expressed its acceptance of the AU-drafted proposal, two rebel groups said they would refuse to sign the document in its current form.
As a result, the AU mediators extended the deadline by 48 hours in order to salvage the proposed peace agreement between the Sudanese government and rebels.

(Xinhua News Agency May 2, 2006)

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