Sudan warring parties to hold talks in Saudi Arabia


US, Saudi and Sudanese officials said on Friday that representatives of two warring Sudanese generals are expected to meet in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to discuss the terms of a ceasefire and a mechanism for allowing humanitarian aid into the country.

The US State Department and the Saudi Foreign Ministry have helped organize the meeting, which will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea off Sudan. Saudi government has been evacuation ships underway Between Jeddah and Port Sudan.

two generals Near agreed to a ceasefire in recent times but their troops have violated them,

Sudanese army confirmed in a post on Facebook Its delegation left for Jeddah on Friday evening to discuss “specific details of the ceasefire”, which aims to “secure and create suitable conditions to deal with the humanitarian situation of our citizens.”

The US and Saudi governments issued a joint statement Friday night saying they “urge both sides to keep in mind the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people and actively negotiate a ceasefire and end the conflict.” End the conflict, which will alleviate the suffering of the Sudanese people and ensure the availability of humanitarian aid to the affected areas.

A senior State Department official said that the discussions in Jeddah will not include talks on this volatile issues around the unification of the armed forces and the chain of command that led to the fighting on 15 April General Abdel Fatah al-Burhanwho controls the Sudanese military, and Lieutenant General Mohammad HamdanWho leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Force.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss delicate diplomacy, said African officials are expected to manage those talks as and when they begin. Two African institutions, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa, will play a leading role.

Since the start of the conflict, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and other State Department officials have been talking directly to the generals and trying to coordinate efforts with a partnership of countries with influence in Sudan called the Quad. They are the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

The State Department said on Friday that Mr Blinken had spoken to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan about the fighting in Sudan. Mr Blinken thanked Saudi Arabia Helping bring US citizens from Sudan to JeddahAnd the two diplomats “affirmed their countries’ deepening cooperation on the diplomatic work to end the fighting in Sudan,” the State Department said in a summary of the call.

fighting in sudan At least 550 people have been killed and nearly half a million displaced, according to Sudanese government figures and the United Nations. The actual number of dead is almost certainly much higher.

Sudanese citizens and officials are working with the United States and other foreign powers to try to transition the nation from military rule to a civilian-run government, with democratic elections, following mass protests in 2019 President Omar was removed from Hassan al-Bashir, dictator of 30 years.

However, in October 2021, General al-Burhan and General Hamdan carried out a coup, reversing an infection process. Officials in the United States and other countries were working on a new agreement with the generals to get the process back on track, and diplomats thought a few weeks ago that the generals were ready to adopt the agreement, but then they But began to debate how best to integrate them. Force, including a timeline.

The chain of command was also an issue: General Hamdan wanted to report directly to a civilian leader, while General al-Burhan wanted General Hamdan to report to him.

A State Department official said that one of the last plans discussed before the fighting began was a proposal that the two generals retain operational control of their own forces and sit on an integration committee with a new civilian chief.

If the generals agree to allow a safe passage for aid into Sudan, most or all of the immediate aid will arrive by ship at Port Sudan and then be moved to Khartoum, the capital, and other places. The State Department official said the United States would work with the United Nations on the process.

Critics say the Biden administration should have tried to punish the two generals instead of working together after the 2021 coup. US officials say they and partners withheld economic aid and debt relief from the Sudanese government, and believed this would motivate the generals to support civilian rule and the transition to democracy.

Several African officials said Friday that when the conflict began three weeks ago, both sides thought they could win easily. But as the fighting escalated, especially in khartoum, the rival parties acknowledged that talks were needed. That realization has prompted a flurry of diplomatic efforts by African governments in recent times.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Tuesday announced that both sides had agreed to a one-week ceasefire and would nominate representatives for peace talks. On Thursday, General al-Burhan sent a special envoy to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in what officials said was one of the first public signs that the two generals were heeding regional and global pressure.

Discussions also began about when and where long-term discussions about power-sharing or a meeting between the two generals could take place. The capitals of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya were suggested as possible alternatives.

On Friday, Kenya’s foreign minister, Alfred N. Matua said his country is drawing up a plan that will bring various political stakeholders to Kenya to discuss the future of Sudan. He said the proposal was being shared with African, Western and Middle Eastern partners, and he expected the process to begin in three weeks.

“We believe that the concept of working on African solutions to African problems and silencing the guns in Africa is very applicable at this time,” Mr. Matua said.

But some officials still doubt how committed the general is to a long-term peace.

“Both sides are still thinking or would still prefer a clear victory over a negotiated solution,” Volker Perthes, the UN envoy to Sudan, said in a phone interview from Port Sudan on Friday.

He said, “And so any notion of the two sides coming together and talking about peace is, I think, rejected and completely rejected by both sides at the moment. And so, I think, this The most realistic efforts at the moment are trying to get a ceasefire.

Vivian Nerem Contributed reporting from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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