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Ugandan Gov't, Rebels Continue Peace Talks
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The talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) aimed to end the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda entered the third day Sunday in Juba, southern Sudan, after serious talks failed to get underway on Saturday as earlier expected.

"The statement was offensive, instead of calling for peace," a member of the government delegation was quoted by Sunday Monitor as saying, referring to the LRA's strong opening statement at the peace talks on Friday, in which it described the Museveni administration as "an ethnic-based regime."

The Ugandan government side consequently asked the southern Sudan, who initiated the talks, to "make a specific response to the LRA statement," said Robert Kabushenga, the head of the Media Center in Kampala.

After a long meeting with southern Sudan authority, the Ugandan side issued its response in a statement, saying the Ugandan government "came under undue, unwarranted, and unfair attack from the LRA delegation."

"The LRA used the opportunity to whitewash itself of the atrocities they have committed on the people of northern Uganda and Southern Sudan," the statement said.

The LRA raised harsh criticism of the government's region policy for northern and eastern Uganda in its statement signed by team leader Martin Ojul.

"They did all they did so that government could behave like an angry child and run away from Juba but we did not react to those provocateurs," the statement added.

Ugandan side top negotiator, Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said the talks will resume on Sunday at 2:30 PM at Jubaraha Hotel.

As part of the talks, LRA leader Joseph Kony, who was absent from the talks for fear of his security, wanted to meet cultural and political leaders from the north and the east in Garamaba National Park, northeast DR Congo.

He also wanted the Ugandan government to help provide tents, chairs and food, but all the requests were not responded yet.

(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2006)

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