April 30, 2009 / 3:08 PM / 10 years ago

Sudan, Chad seek lasting peace at Qatar talks


* U.S. says ceasefire "within reach"

* Sudan, Chad to continue talks in Doha for lasting peace

* Reconciliation talks could help resolve Darfur conflict (Adds comments from U.S. State Department, paragraphs 6-7)

By Dania Saadi

DUBAI, April 30 (Reuters) - Sudan and Chad will push ahead with talks in Doha on Friday aimed at creating a lasting peace agreement, Qatari and Sudanese officials said on Thursday.

Chad and Sudan resumed shaky diplomatic ties in November after cutting them in May. Khartoum had accused Chadian President Idriss Deby of involvement in an attack on the Sudanese capital by Darfur rebels on May 11, 2008.

Both oil-producing countries have long accused each other of supporting insurgent groups and rebel attacks inside their territories.

"Our mission is to provide mechanisms that will make any deal or agreement viable for implementation on the ground and this is what we are working on now," Ahmad al-Mahmood, Qatar’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said.

The way to break the vicious cycle of failed past peace deals is to agree on how to implement any agreement reached, Sudan’s minister for international cooperation, Al-Tijani Saleh Fidail, told the Qatari News Agency.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood urged all parties to the conflict in Darfur to join the Doha talks and stop violent actions in western Sudan.

"An interim ceasefire is within reach, one which allows the armed movements and the government of Sudan to achieve a comprehensive solution," Wood said in a statement, adding that Chad and Sudan must end all support for cross-border violence.

Thursday’s talks in Doha helped clarify some facts about the situation in both countries and along their border, which should help with efforts to resolve conflicts, Fidail said.

The talks, which started on Wednesday in Doha under Qatari and Libyan sponsorship, will review the positive and negative aspects of past agreements to arrive at a lasting solution, Sudanese Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Mutrif Siddig told Qatar’s state news agency late on Wednesday.

"We will work with our brethren in Chad to find lasting peaceful solutions for Chad’s issues, so that they do not have adverse reflections on Sudan," the Qatar News Agency quoted Siddig as saying.

QATAR AS POWER-BROKER

The porous border between Sudan and Chad has contributed to several conflicts, including the civil war in Sudan’s Darfur region, which U.N officials say has killed as many as 300,000 people and driven more than 2.7 million from their homes in almost six years of ethnic and political violence.

Qatar is ramping up its role as a peace broker in the Middle East and North Africa by sponsoring peace talks between warring factions in Sudan, Yemen and Lebanon and hosting meetings between Palestinian and Israeli officials.

The U.S.-allied country has helped broker a peace agreement between Lebanese groups that led to the election of a new president and the formation of a national unity government.

Co-sponsor Libya chairs the African Union, of which both Sudan and Chad are members.

The reconciliation talks in Doha should help bring peace to the Darfur region, Djibril Bassole, the United Nations and the African Union’s Darfur mediator, told the Qatari agency.

Bassole said he expected peace talks between Darfur’s rebel Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan’s government to resume as soon as possible in Doha. (Additional reporting by Sue Pleming in Washington; Editing by Richard Hubbard and Peter Cooney)



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