Friday, May 26, 2006

Sudan, east rebels to start peace talks in Eritrea

Reuters report May 26, 2006:

Sudan's government and eastern rebels will hold talks in Asmara next month to try to end a simmering insurgency in the remote but economically important region, Eritrean officials said.

Khartoum -- which signed a peace agreement with southern rebels in 2005 and has also faced an insurgency in its western Darfur region -- will begin negotiations on June 13 with the Eastern Front, Eritrea's official Web site said.

Eastern rebels, whose revolt has rumbled for about a decade, share the complaints of counterparts in Darfur and former rebels in the south that Khartoum has failed to develop their far-flung regions while exploiting their natural resources.

The article on, the site of Eritrea's Information Ministry, said the government and the Eastern front signed an initial agreement on dialogue this week in Asmara.

"The agreement underlined that the dialogue should take place in a manner that would reinforce the on-going peace process in the Sudan, satisfy both parties and promote the peace, unity and stability in the country," the article said.

Sudanese Federal Minister Abdel Basit Sabderat and Mussa Mohamed Ahmed, leader of the Eastern Front, signed the agreement, it added.

"Both sides have agreed on Eritrea hosting the dialogue, the first of which is scheduled to take place on June 13, 2006."

Sudan this week released three members of the east's main political party, a key demand for talks to begin.

The Eastern Front includes both eastern rebel groups and the main political parties in the area.

The drought-stricken east has some of the highest malnutrition rates in the country, yet is home to Sudan's largest gold mine, its main port and major oil pipeline.

The main eastern tribe is the Beja.

The rebels took up arms in the 1990s and control the small Hamesh Koreb area near the border with Eritrea.

Relations between Eritrea and Sudan have been fraught in the past, with both sides trading accusations of support for armed insurgents on each other's territory.

Eritrea denies giving military support to the eastern Sudan rebels, but admits to political support.


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