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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK
Darfur peace talks stall in Abuja
Darfur refugee
More than two million people have fled their homes in Darfur
Peace talks on the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur have failed to begin for a second day running.

However, African Union mediators at the talks venue in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, say they will continue consultations on Sunday.

They still hope to bring Sudanese government and rebel representatives together for face-to-face discussions.

Chief mediator Salim Ahmed Salim said delegates seemed to be moving in the same direction on substantial issues.

The two sides have not been able to agree either on the talks agenda, or the composition of the mediating teams.

The Sudanese government objected to the inclusion of Eritrea among the mediators, while the Darfur rebels did not want Chad to be involved.

The UN has said Darfur is one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Two years of fighting between rebels and Arab militias have left at least 180,000 people dead and forced more than two million to flee their homes.

Sudan accuses Eritrea of helping rebels in Darfur, while rebel leaders say Chad sides with the Khartoum government.

Mediators include a team from the African Union (AU) as well as observers from the UN, the EU and other countries.

An agenda for the talks still needs to be agreed on by the parties.

The talks began last August but were adjourned in December.

Nato airlift

The government denies accusations that it has backed the Arab Janjaweed militias, which are accused of the worst atrocities such as mass rape, killings and looting.

Some 2,000 African Union peacekeepers are trying to monitor a shaky truce.

Nato has agreed plans to airlift more AU troops to Darfur in the alliance's first mission in Africa.

The AU has agreed to increase its force to more than 7,700, but even this number is seen as being too small to cover an area the size of France.


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