Sudan blames Darfur rebels hosts for talk boycott

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DUBAI, Nov 12 (Reuters) Sudan today blamed countries that allow Darfur rebels to operate in their territory for failing to use their influence to persuade the insurgents to attend peace talks last month.

Neighbouring Chad allows Darfur rebels to remain armed on its territory though the groups have representatives in several countries. The Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Army, the main factions fighting in Darfur, did not attend talks in the Libyan town of Sirte in October.

''We really think that the countries that are hosting these insurgents are not playing their required role to the full to push them to attend the conference,'' Sudanese Defence Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein told a news conference in Dubai.

Mediators had hoped the negotiations in Libya would help end spiralling chaos in Darfur, which some international experts estimate has claimed 200,000 lives and driven 2.5 million from the homes since 2003. Khartoum says 9,000 people have died.

''There is an agreement with European and other states that they be pushed to attend ... and there are clear sanctions for those that delay the peace process and want the situation in Darfur to continue in a way that causes security tensions.'' Hussein said Khartoum had announced a unilateral ceasefire to show its ''seriousness and good will'' over the talks and sent a high-level delegation, but had been met with nothing. The Darfur rebels say they had continued to be bombed.

The Sirte meeting was the first attempt to gather Darfur rebels and the government around a negotiating table since 2006, when the African Union mediated Darfur talks in Abuja, Nigeria.

Signed by only one rebel faction, the Abuja deal had little support among Darfuris in displacement camps and triggered fresh violence as rebels split into factions.

Hussein also said Sudan would reject any external intervention over a separate crisis in the south.

The former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) withdrew from the government about a month ago in protest over the slow implementation of a landmark 2005 peace deal which ended Africa's longest war.

Hussein said major obstacles such as the unresolved status of Abyei on the north-south border, disputes over oil reserves, the border, and the redeployment of forces should be solved through the mechanisms already included in the peace deal.

''We think we do not need any external intervention to solve these issues because we think any external intervention will serve to complicate the issue rather than solve it,'' he said.

Reuters PJ DB2254

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