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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 14:35 GMT
Sudan tackles north-south divide
Sudan has suffered from 20 years of war

Peace talks on the status of three disputed regions of Sudan have begun between the government and Sudan People's Liberation Army rebels.

The discussions focus on the central Sudanese regions of Blue Nile, Abyei and Nuba Mountains, which the government maintains are all part of northern Sudan.

The three areas were not covered by a deal agreed last July to give autonomy to rebel-held parts of southern Sudan for six years ahead of a referendum on independence.

The government says they control 90% of the three regions, but the SPLA says that local people regard them as their representatives at the talks.

'Justice and equality'

Any deal reached at the talks near the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, will be incorporated into the main peace process, the fourth round of which is set to resume later this month.

The talks are expected to last about two weeks.

Government official Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani told AFP news agency that he expected there to be separate talks on the status of each region as the issues were different in each place.

"The negotiations are aimed at reaching peace based on justice and equality and on determining the best system of governance that ensures a fair distribution of power and resources," Mr Atabani said.

Some two million people have died in the 20-year civil war between the Muslim and Arabic-speaking north and the Christian and Animist southern rebels.

Sudan compromise urged
23 Jan 03 |  Africa
Sudan 'ceasefire broken'
02 Jan 03 |  Africa
Sudan talks end without deal
18 Nov 02 |  Africa
Country profile: Sudan
03 Mar 03 |  Country profiles

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