Sudan to start peace talks with border state rebels


Sudan will start peace talks with insurgents fighting government troops in two states bordering South Sudan in a conflict which has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, according to state media.

The talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) will commence under the auspices of the African Union in Ethiopia on Tuesday, said Ibrahim Ghandour, head of Sudan’s delegation, state news agency SUNA reported.

Sudan previously refused to meet the SPLM-North and accused South Sudan of backing the rebels, charges denied by Juba, Reuters reports.

Khartoum changed its stance after signing a deal with South Sudan last month to defuse tensions between the neighbors and resume cross-border oil flows. The countries came close to war a year ago in a conflict over oil fees and disputed territory.

The SPLM-North has already said it was ready to talk to Sudan. Its fighters in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states sided with South Sudan during decades of civil war with Khartoum, which ended with a peace agreement in 2005.

They were left on the Sudanese side of the border after southern secession in July 2011.

Fighting in the two border states has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. The United Nations has been denied access to deliver aid via Sudan to rebel-held territories in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Sudan’s north-south war was one of Africa’s longest and deadliest conflicts, killing some 2 million people, devastating much of South Sudan and sucking in many of its neighbors.