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Somali Gov't Delegation Says Khartoum Peace Talks Fail
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The Somali government's chief negotiator said on Thursday that the Somali peace talks in Khartoum failed due to unacceptable conditions put forward by the Islamic Courts.

"The third round of peace negotiations failed because of preconditions of the Islamic Courts which we refused," Abdullah Sheikh Ismail, head of the Somali interim government delegation, told a press conference.

He reiterated the government's keenness to continue its responsibilities despite repeated attacks by the militia of the Islamic Courts on its positions, especially Baidoa, the only major city controlled by the government.

"We are besieged, but this terror can not prevent us from defending the constitutional acquirements of the people," he said, adding that government troops would safeguard Baidoa with all means.

Sudan and the Arab League as well as other parties mediating the Somali peace talks announced in a joint statement earlier in the day that the peace talks were postponed indefinitely.

The Somali peace talks had been originally scheduled to resume on Monday. But the delegates refused to sit together after arriving in Khartoum despite mediating efforts by Sudan and the Arab League as well as other parties concerned.

The delegation of the Islamic Courts, which controls the Somali capital of Mogadishu and most of the south of the country, insisted on its demand of withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia as a precondition for starting the new round of peace talks.

The Somali peace talks began in Khartoum in June when the two sides agreed on a formula for mutual recognition. The second session was held in the city on Sept. 2-3 when the two sides signed an agreement to form a unified national army.

(Xinhua News Agency November 3, 2006)

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