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Sudan army rejects US call to return to peace talks

May 29, 2024 at 5:52 pm

Fighters loyal to Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan attend a graduation ceremony in the southeastern Gedaref state on May 27, 2024 [/AFP via Getty Images]

Sudan’s army, on Wednesday, rejected a call to return to peace talks with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces following a conversation between General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Reuters reports.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 9 million have fled their homes in the war between the army and RSF that erupted in April 2024 over a transition to free elections.

“We will not go to Jeddah (venue for talks in Saudi Arabia) and whoever wants us to, should kill us in our country and take our bodies there,” said Malik Agar, a former rebel leader and Burhan’s number two on the country’s Transitional Sovereign Council.

Intense fighting continued in northern areas of the capital, Khartoum, on Wednesday, with residents reporting heavy aerial bombing and artillery fire.

On Tuesday, the State Department said Blinken discussed with Burhan the need to end the war and to resume talks sponsored by the US and Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, which have been stalled for months after failing to achieve a sustained ceasefire.

READ: Violent attacks on schools surge fourfold in Sudan

On Wednesday, Sudan’s army-aligned Foreign Ministry welcomed an Egyptian invitation for a summit of civilian political groups, but placed conditions on the types of groups and foreign actors invited.

In his statement, Agar suggested that a separate summit for civilian political parties taking place in Addis Ababa was a distraction from the aim of ending the war.

The RSF has said previously it is open to talks, though neither side has abided by commitments made in prior rounds.

In Tuesday’s call, Blinken also discussed the need to defuse hostilities in Al-Fashir, the North Darfur capital where fighting has escalated since 10 May, killing at least 145 people and displacing over 3,600 families, most of them this week, according to UN and Medecins Sans Frontieres aid group reports.

The RSF has surrounded Al-Fashir and raided civilian neighbourhoods, while the army, fighting to maintain its presence in its last stronghold in the Darfur region, has carried out costly air strikes in the area.

Residents say projectiles from either side have fallen and destroyed homes, while few people are able to reach hospitals and water and electricity services have been cut off.

READ: Egypt to host conference for Sudan civilian political groups in June