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Sudan sends new troops to front lines

27 February 2014, 20:56

Khartoum - Khartoum dispatched reinforcements to its front lines on Thursday as government and rebel delegations gathered in the Ethiopian capital to resume talks to end fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The African Union-mediated negotiations aim to end the nearly three-year-old war in the two restive states, which aid groups say has left 1.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Sudan's Armed Forces are battling ethnic insurgents of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North.

In a statement, SAF said it held a ceremony on Thursday to send more than a battalion to the "operational areas", which it did not name.

"SAF troops are ready to defeat the rebels," said State Minister of Defence Yahya Mohammed Khair, former governor of Blue Nile.

The military has made similar vows before, leading only to "the same stalemate", an African diplomat said last week.

Khair made his comments at a farewell ceremony for Popular Defence Force and other troops. The PDF is a type of reserve unit frequently used to support units of the regular army, which is also fighting an 11-year-old rebellion in Sudan's Darfur region.

The official SUNA news agency quoted Ibrahim Ghandour, Khartoum's chief negotiator, as saying three days of talks would start on Thursday, and would focus on a draft ceasefire agreement proposed by the African Union.

Rebel spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi told AFP that the SPLM-N delegation had already travelled to Addis Ababa for the talks.

A first round of negotiations adjourned on 18 February without a single face-to-face meeting between the combatants.

AU chief mediator Thabo Mbeki said on Tuesday that he hopes the renewed talks will be a step towards SPLM-N participation in a broader national dialogue about Sudan's political future.



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