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Security Council welcomes progress at UN-chaired talks with Darfur rebels

9 August 2007 The Security Council today welcomed the progress made during “pre-negotiation” talks last weekend with some of Darfur’s rebel groups and called on all sides to the conflict to now show their commitment to the peace process by ending their hostilities.

In a statement to the press, Ambassador Pascal Gayama of the Republic of Congo, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, said the 15-member panel noted “the substantial progress” made at the talks, which were held in Arusha, Tanzania.

The talks, chaired by the UN and African Union envoys charged with energizing the peace process in Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, concluded with agreement from the rebels who attended that they would work together to try to devise a solution to the deadly conflict that has devastated the Sudanese region since 2003.

The rebels reaffirmed their commitment to the so-called Road Map outlined by Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim, and agreed to present a common platform on the sharing of power and wealth, security arrangements, land and humanitarian issues. They also recommended that final talks towards a political solution to the Darfur conflict be held in two or three months’ time.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and two million others forced to flee their homes because of fighting between rebel groups, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militias.

Today’s press statement noted that the progress achieved at the Arusha talks built on the momentum generated by talks in Tripoli, Libya, last month and on last week’s Security Council resolution authorizing the deployment of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force (UNAMID) to Darfur to quell the violence there.

Council members stressed the importance of pursuing the political and peacekeeping tracks simultaneously, the statement added.

They also “call on all parties to move from pre-negotiations to negotiations as soon as possible and to demonstrate their commitment to the political process through concrete actions, in particular cessation of hostilities.”

Mr. Eliasson continued his latest visit to Darfur today, meeting with Arab and nomadic tribal leaders in Nyala, South Darfur, before heading to El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur and the planned headquarters of UNAMID.

After his meeting with the tribal leaders, Mr. Eliasson said that the political process had reached a serious stage and it was vital that the process continued to enjoy the support of the people.

“We have to reach out to all the people of Darfur,” he said. “There has been an enormous tragedy, enormous violence exerted here in this area. But looking at the future we have to build a premise that people have to live together. And therefore it is important that we have to reach out to all groups in Darfurian society.”

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