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UN Chief: Darfur Peace Talks to Resume Soon
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Visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on Wednesday that the peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and rebel movements in the western Sudanese region of Darfur would resume soon.


Ban made the announcement at a meeting in Fashir, the capital city of North Darfur State, with governor of the state Osman Mohammed Yousef Kibr and other senior officials of the state government.


Ban said he and Alfa Omar Konare, the African Union (AU) commissioner, would send invitations soon to the parties concerned to attend the next round of the Darfur peace negotiations.


UN and AU mediators have expected that the Darfur peace talks, which have been deadlocked since the Sudanese government signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) with a main rebel faction in the Nigerian capital Abuja in May 2006, will restart in October.


Ban disclosed that he would have more consultations with Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir during their meeting in Khartoum on Thursday in the arrangements and ideas about the upcoming peace talks between the Sudanese government and non-signatories of the DPA.


The UN chief reiterated his full commitment to Resolution 1769, adopted by the UN Security Council on July 31, on a hybrid peacekeeping operation to be conducted by the UN and the AU in Darfur.


Ban said a large quantity of resources were needed for the implementation of this resolution besides a cooperation of all the parties concerned.


North Darfur State governor Kibr, on his part, underlined a tangible improvement of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur since the DPA was signed, due to the efforts exerted by the Sudanese government on the local and national levels.


Kibr called on the parties concerned to implement Resolution 1769 with "a complete neutrality and transparency," and urging the UN to respect Sudan's sovereignty and to deal with the Darfur issue with a total transparency.


Ban arrived in Fashir earlier Wednesday on the first visit of a UN secretary general in Darfur since the conflict erupted in the region in February 2003.


The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said in a statement that when Ban arrived for a meeting at the UNMIS headquarters in Fashir with representatives of internally displaced persons (IDPs) selected amongst themselves from all three IDP camps in Fashir area, a group of uninvited people showed up and tried to force their way into the meeting but failed because of security precautions.


After a brief delay, Ban resumed his scheduled activities, including a meeting with three representatives of the IDPs and another with civil society and traditional leaders.


"The UN secretary general had offered to meet with the other group if time permits," the statement added.


Ban flew to Darfur from Juba, southern Sudan, where he had held a meeting with Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayarditand delivered an address at the Juba University on Tuesday.


Ban started his first official visit in Sudan on Monday, which is to last for five days.


(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2007)

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