Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Chad President Deby in Sudan talks on Darfur

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (l) and Chad's Idriss Deby (r)
The visit of Idriss Deby (R) comes after a recent security deal

Chad President Idriss Deby is visiting Sudan for the first time since 2004 for talks on the troubled Darfur region.

The two countries have been fighting a proxy war for several years along their common border around Darfur.

The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says the visit was a surprise and caught Sudanese officials off-guard.

Sudan says Chad backs Darfur rebel groups, while Khartoum is accused of supporting armed militias who are active in eastern Chad.

We have come here like a dove
President Idriss Deby

Rebel groups have threatened the capital cities of both countries in recent years, sparking a flurry of accusations and counter-accusations.

Analysts say the rebels function as an extra line of defence for each country, but add that this poisonous mixture has considerably worsened the dramatic humanitarian problems in both areas.

'Historic visit'

Mr Deby was greeted at Khartoum airport by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir before the two men held talks.

"We have come here like a dove... we came to show our will, our availability, our commitment to see peace, tranquillity and confidence return," Mr Deby said at the start of the discussions, reports the AFP news agency.

Map of Sudan and Chad

"This is a historic visit," Sudan's Foreign Minister Deng Alor told reporters at the airport.

"We hope to see a lot of issues being discussed and resolved."

The two-day visit comes after some signs of a thaw in the relationship.

The two countries last month signed an agreement aimed at boosting security on the border.

Unlike many previous treaties which proclaimed good intentions but offered little in practice, our correspondent says this one outlined several concrete steps.

Mr Deby's visit to Khartoum could put the finishing touches to this plan, our correspondent says.

They will set up a joint border force, with each country providing some 1,500 men, AFP says.

"We are committed to implementing all the agreements signed between our two countries," said Mr Bashir.

Mistrust between Khartoum and N'Djamena is still high, but neither country will be stable until the two make a real peace, our correspondent adds.

The UN says 300,000 people have died in the Darfur conflict since 2003, although Sudan says the scale of the suffering in the region has been greatly exaggerated for political reasons.

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Reuters UK Sudan, Chad agree definitive end to proxy wars - 30 mins ago
Business Day Chadian leader meets Sudans al-Bashir in rare peace mission - 10 hrs ago
France24 DIPLOMACY: Chadian president pays landmark visit to Sudan - 18 hrs ago
Times Live South Africa Chad leader extends olive branch to Sudan's Beshir - 20 hrs ago
Bangkok Post Chad leader in Sudan for bid to boost ties - 25 hrs ago

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