Egypt FM meets Darfur rebel leaders in push for unity | world | Hindustan Times
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Egypt FM meets Darfur rebel leaders in push for unity

world Updated: Jul 11, 2009 20:58 IST

AFP
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Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit met officials from Darfur rebel groups on Saturday to push for peace talks between them and the Sudanese government, the state news agency MENA reported.

The meeting, in which United Resistance Front leader Baher Idris Abu Garda and heads of Sudan Liberation Army factions took part, came a week after Cairo hosted officials from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel group.

"We came to Egypt after a generous offer from Egypt's leadership pursuant to previous efforts to unite the visions of Darfur movements to resolve the (Darfur conflict) issue," MENA quoted Abu Garda as saying.

The meeting took place a day before Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, was due to meet his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

Abul Gheit said after meeting the rebel groups that Egypt as a neighbour had a strategic interest in helping to secure peace in Darfur.

"There may be friendly countries or the United Nations or regional countries which have interests and try to achieve peace and stability in Darfur, and this is something we support and push for," he said.

"But Egypt has shared borders with Sudan."

Qatar, which has fraught relations with Egypt and has sought to expand its own diplomatic clout in the region, has hosted talks between JEM and Khartoum since February.

They agreed on confidence-building measures in February but the talks were adjourned in June.

Khartoum has refused to release JEM prisoners, sentencing more than 100 JEM rebels, including two half-brothers of the group's leader Khalil Ibrahim, to death over a 2008 attack on Khartoum.

Khartoum says it will not release prisoners before a ceasefire takes hold.

The United Nations says about 300,000 people have died in Darfur since ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003, complaining of discrimination.

Sudan says about 10,000 people have died.