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Page last updated at 06:50 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 07:50 UK

Sudan kidnap talks in second day

Sharon Commins
Sharon Commins is an aid worker in Darfur

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs will resume talks with the Sudanese government in Khartoum in an attempt to to free a kidnapped Irish aid worker.

Sharon Commins, 32, from Dublin, who worked for GOAL, was abducted with her Ugandan colleague, Hilda Kawuki, from the Darfur region in early July.

The two were taken by a gang of armed men from a compound run by the Irish aid agency on 3 July.

Micheál Martin met government ministers in Khartoum on Sunday.

He will now hold a second day of talks with Sudanese officials.

While the Department of Foreign Affairs has declined to provide details of the talks, it is reported Mr Martin met with a series of Ministers, including his Sudanese counterpart Mr Deng Alor.

In a brief statement to journalists, Mr Martin said he wanted to pass on the Irish people's concern about the kidnapping and his government's willingness to help efforts to free the women.

Ireland already has diplomats and negotiators in Khartoum and El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.

Sudan's government has blamed the kidnapping on bandits and says it is determined not to pay a ransom. Ministers say they have identified the kidnappers and are negotiating through leaders of their nomadic tribe.

GOAL has welcomed the Irish government's decision to send the minister to the Sudan, saying authorities there are the key to the release of the two aid workers.

It is nine weeks since the two women were kidnapped.

In August, newspaper reports suggested that they would be freed soon.

However, it has also been reported that the kidnappers have made $2m ransom demands in return for the women's safe release.



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