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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 13:16 GMT
Ugandan rebels in crucial talks
A Ugandan woman at the scene of an LRA massacre
Some 1.6m people have fled their homes because of the fighting
MPs and religious leaders are to meet Lord's Resistance Army commanders for talks in Kitgum in northern Uganda.

A Christmas ceasefire is in force in parts of the north. A lack of trust between the LRA and government has so far prevented direct talks.

The government wants a deal by the end of the year and a minister is waiting to join the talks if progress is made.

The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is notorious for abducting children to become sex slaves and fighters.

The 18-year conflict in northern Uganda has driven 1.6 million people into refugee camps and triggered what aid workers call one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.

The BBC's Ali Mutasa says the continuing efforts are aimed at dispelling the deep distrust which exists between the government and LRA and getting them talking together.

Despite the truce, the army recently attacked a rebel base, saying the rebels were outside the ceasefire zone.

Since the latest peace efforts last month, LRA commanders have held face-to-face meetings with traditional Acholi leaders in the presence of international observers.

A former Ugandan minister is acting as a mediator in the peace process.

President Yoweri Museveni has offered to hold direct talks with LRA leader Joseph Kony if such a meeting would help end the war.

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