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AU-UN Arusha meeting underway with some armed movements present
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11:22, August 04, 2007

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The African Union-United Nations meeting on Darfur on Friday went underway after a delay of more than 10 hours but the wait resulted in the presence of seven leaders of armed movements from western Sudan.

They were joined by diplomats from Eritrea, Libya and Egypt as well as members of parliament from Tanzania.

The Arusha meeting was co-chaired by AU and UN special envoys on Darfur Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson, just like the previous international meeting held in Tripoli of Libya between July 15 and 16.

Salim Ahmed Salim said at the opening plenary session that the overriding objective of the three-day consultations would be to create the necessary and conducive environment needed for the political process to resume in earnest.

Jan Eliasson told the participants that the Arusha meeting would need enhanced dialogue among all parties concerned, associate participants completely with the Darfur peace roadmap, provide concrete negotiation ideas and share the timeframe for the formal peace negotiations.

The African Union and United Nations special envoys have been shuttling across the vast semi-desert region of Darfur for the past five months trying to persuade leaders of armed movements to coordinate their demands and to prepare for full-scale peace talks with the Sudanese government in September this year.

"Jan and I wanted to have as wide a representation as possible, " said Salim Ahmed Salim, "We believe that everyone who is here today has a contribution to make in our collective search for lasting peace in Darfur."

Present at Friday's opening plenary session were such leaders of armed movements as Khalil Abdalla Adam, Salah Abu Surra, Khamis Abdallah Abakar, Ahmed Abdelshafi, Abdalla Yahya, Khalil Ibrahim and Ahmed Ibrahim Ali Diraige.

Salim Ahmed Salim regretted the absence of Abdul Wahid el Nur. "I hope that in the interest of the people that he has been fighting for, he (Abdul Wahid el Nur) will soon join his brothers and sisters from Darfur," said Salim Ahmed Salim.

Abdul Wahid el Nur has been demanding compensations for victims and a no-fly zone over Darfur.

On Saturday, closed-door consultations will be held between the AU-UN and leaders of armed movements and among leaders of armed movements themselves, according to Nourredine Mezni, spokesman of the African Union Mission in Sudan.

Source: Xinhua

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