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US envoy eyes Sudan talks resuming after Ramadan

By AFP - Mar 27,2024 - Last updated at Mar 27,2024

Displaced Sudanese children carry packs of humanitarian aid at a school, where their families took refuge, near Gadaref city in war-torn Sudan on March 6 (AFP photo)

WASHINGTON — A US envoy voiced hope on Tuesday that Sudan’s warring generals will resume talks after Ramadan and work to prevent a broader regional war, despite the failure of previous negotiations.

Tom Perriello, a former congressman recently named to a new position of US special envoy for Sudan, said after a seven-nation trip that talks co-led with Saudi Arabia could start on or around April 18.

“Anyone who thought that either side had a path to outright victory should at this point be very clear that that’s not the case,” he told reporters after returning to Washington.

“A war of attrition,” he said, “is one that is not just a disaster for civilians, but actually easily becomes a more factionalised and regional war.”

War broke out in April 2023 between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), killing tens of thousands, forcing millions to flee and pushing the impoverished country to the brink of famine.

Previous rounds of talks in the Saudi port city of Jeddah failed to yield any more than general promises or to halt the conflict in Sudan, which had earlier been transitioning, if uneasily, toward democracy.

Perriello, while upbeat about resuming formal negotiations, added that it was important not to “fetishise the start of talks” and said the United States and other nations were looking at incentives to end the war.

Regional players have played a key role in the war, with Sudan in December expelling diplomats from the United Arab Emirates over accusations the wealthy Gulf country has funneled military support to the RSF.

Perriello said that “they are aware, as others across the region are, that this is a situation that is quickly hurtling out of control and that the RSF is not in a position right now where it’s marching to either military or diplomatic victory”.

The RSF has also allegedly received support from Russia’s Wagner mercenaries, while Egypt and Turkey have backed the army.

The United States has previously voiced alarm over reports that Iran is also working with the army, which could give Tehran’s clerical state, which also backs Yemen’s Houthi rebels, new access to the Red Sea.

 

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