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Sudan's warring rivals begin direct talks in Saudi Arabia

May 6, 2023 at 3:30 pm

Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia (R) meets with Defullah al-Hajj al-Ali (2nd L), Special Representative of Sudanese Army Commander General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 30, 2023. [Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry – Anadolu Agency]

Representatives of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group began their first face-to-face talks in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Anadolu reports.

According to the Saudi state news agency SPA, the talks between the two military rivals were held in the city of Jeddah.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia and the US welcomed the start of the “pre-negotiation talks” between the two conflicting parties to end their fighting that has killed hundreds.

A joint Saudi-US statement urged the Sudanese rivals to “take into consideration the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people and actively engage in the talks towards a cease-fire and end to the conflict.”

The statement called for sustained global support for the talks to end the conflict in Sudan and for an expanded negotiation process that should include engagement with all Sudanese parties.

Fighting between two rival generals — army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo — broke out on April 15, leaving more than 550 people dead.

A disagreement had been fomenting in recent months between the two sides concerning the integration of the RSF into the armed forces — a key condition of Sudan’s transition agreement with political groups.

Sudan has been without a functioning government since October 2021 when the military dismissed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government and declared a state of emergency in a move decried by political forces as a “coup.”

The transitional period, which started in August 2019 after the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, was scheduled to end with elections in early 2024.

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