The Sudanese government and eastern rebels signed a declaration of principles and a ceasefire agreement in the Eritrean capital Asmara Monday evening, the official SUNA news agency reported.
Mustafa Ismail, presidential advisor and head of the government delegation, and Mohamed Ahmed, chairman of the rebel East Front, signed the two documents, according to the report.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Ahmed said that the two documents created a positive climate and constituted the basis for coming negotiations, expressing hope that coming peace talks would be held in the same spirit.
Ismail, on his part, highly praised Eritrea's sponsorship of peace negotiations and efforts exerted by negotiators of the two sides to work out the two documents.
Underlining the government's commitment to solving all the conflicts in Sudan through dialogue, he said that weapons would never lead to peace but to ruins and destruction.
"I want to send a message to our citizens in East Sudan that steps toward peace have started and only a just and permanent peace can end humanitarian sufferings in the east," he added.
He said that the road of peace was still very long, noting that "we are still in the first quarter of the road, patience and persistence are needed before we reach the shore of peace." Last Tuesday, the two sides began peace negotiation under the auspices of the Eritrean government.
Early last year, the East Front was founded by Sudan's eastern two main rebel groups, the Beja Congress and the Free Lions. Last June, the front launched its first military offensive against government positions in the Red Sea state.
During a recent visit by Eritrean President Assias Afworeki in Khartoum, Sudan and Eritrea reached an agreement on normalization of bilateral relations and Eritrea's sponsorship of peace talks in Asmara.
(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2006)