Khartoum - The African Union (AU) said on Tuesday it
hopes a resumption of peace talks between Khartoum and rebels this week will
lead to their joining a broader dialogue about Sudan's political future.
The AU-brokered negotiations are to resume in the
Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, after a first round adjourned on 18 February
without a single face-to-face meeting between the combatants.
"This week we will continue the negotiations between
Sudan and SPLM-North, and hope that this will open the door for the movement to
join the national dialogue process," AU chief mediator Thabo Mbeki told
reporters after meeting President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum.
Bashir's assistant Ibrahim Ghandour, who is also Sudan's
chief negotiator, said the talks would resume on Thursday.
Ethnic rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation
Movement-North have been fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states for
nearly three years, a war which has affected more than one million civilians,
according to the UN.
Like the decade-old insurgency in Sudan's western Darfur
region, the conflict has been fuelled by complaints among non-Arab minorities
of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated regime.
Analysts - along with the rebels themselves - say the
conflicts need to be addressed within a comprehensive national framework, not
on a piecemeal basis as has been the government's practice in the past.
Bashir has called for a wide-ranging national dialogue,
including with armed rebels, but government negotiators want the Addis Ababa
talks to focus only on South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
A peace deal for the two states "will support the
national dialogue process”, Ghandour has said.