November 4, 2018 / 4:08 PM / 12 days ago

Sudan accepts South Sudanese mediation in border regions

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan has for the first time accepted mediation by South Sudan’s leader in peace talks over the restive Sudanese border regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, a Sudanese official said on Sunday.

Sudan had previously accused its southern neighbour of stoking unrest in the two regions, where rebels kept up a fight against Khartoum’s rule even after most of the territory they fought for decades became independent South Sudan in 2011.

Sudan’s government has announced unilateral ceasefires in both regions as well as in Sudan’s troubled western region of Darfur since 2015 and fighting has subsided.

Ibrahim al-Sadiq, a spokesman for Sudan’s ruling party, said South Sudanese President Salva Kiir had begun talks with factions from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) present in South Kordofan and Blue Nile over a peace settlement.

Peace talks under the aegis of the African Union were expected to take place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in mid-December, he said.

“Peace is a strategic choice for the Sudanese government and accordingly the government has approved the mediation of South Sudan President Salva Kiir,” said Sadiq.

Thousands have been killed in Sudan’s civil wars, including in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government since 2003.

Kiir’s government and South Sudan’s main rebel group signed a peace deal in September in Khartoum aimed at ending the civil war that ravaged the country after 2013.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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