Representatives of the two warring Sudanese generals are expected to meet in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to discuss ceasefire terms and mechanisms for allowing humanitarian aid to enter the country, US officials said. , Saudi Arabia and Sudan said on Friday.
The U.S. State Department and Saudi State Department helped organize the meeting, which will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea across from Sudan. The Saudi government has run the evacuation train between Jeddah and Port Sudan.
Sudanese army confirmed in a Facebook post that their delegation left Jeddah on Friday night to discuss “the specifics of the armistice,” which aims to “ensure and create appropriate conditions for a humanitarian settlement of the public situation.” our people”.
The governments of the United States and Saudi Arabia issued a joint statement Friday night saying they “call on both sides to consider the interests of the country and the people of Sudan, and to actively engage in negotiations.” negotiations towards a ceasefire and an end to the conflict. will ease the suffering of the Sudanese people and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to the affected areas.”
A senior State Department official said discussions in Jeddah would not include talks on volatile problem around the unification of the armed forces and the command system that led to the start of fighting on 15 April between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhanwho controls the Sudanese army, and Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdanleader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Force.
African officials are expected to manage those talks whenever they begin, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss delicate foreign policy. Two African organizations, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Agency for Development in East Africa, will assume leadership roles.
Since the conflict began, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and other State Department officials have spoken directly to the generals and tried to coordinate efforts with the partnership of nations. influential in Sudan called Quad. These are the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Great Britain.
The State Department said on Friday that Mr Blinken had spoken with Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi foreign minister, about the fighting in Sudan. Mr. Blinken thanked Saudi Arabia help bring US citizens from Sudan to Jeddahand the two diplomats “affirm the two countries’ extensive cooperation in diplomacy to end the fighting in Sudan,” the State Department said in a summary of the call.
The fighting in Sudan killed at least 550 people and displaced nearly half a million, according to the Sudanese government and the United Nations. The actual number of the dead is almost certainly much higher.
Sudanese officials and civilians have worked with the United States and other foreign powers to try to transition the country from a military regime to a civilian-run government, with democratic elections, since mass protests in 2019 led to the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, a 30-year dictator.
However, in October 2021, General al-Burhan and General Hamdan make a coup, topple a transition. Officials from the United States and other countries are discussing a new deal with the generals to get the process back on track, and diplomats have thought for weeks that the generals are ready accepted the treaty, but then they began arguing over how to merge their agreements. force, including in a timeline.
The command system was also a problem: General Hamdan wanted to report directly to a civilian leader, while General al-Burhan wanted General Hamdan to report to him.
One of the final plans discussed before the fighting broke out was to propose that both generals maintain operational control of their own forces and sit on an integration committee with a leader. new civilian nation, the State Department official said.
If the generals agree to allow a safe passage for aid into Sudan, most or all of the aid will immediately be delivered by ship to Port Sudan and then by land to the capital Khartoum and other places. The United States will work with the United Nations on this process, the State Department official said.
Critics say the Biden administration should seek to punish the two generals after the 2021 coup instead of working closely with them. US officials say they and their partners have withheld economic aid and debt relief from the Sudanese government, and believe that will spur generals to support the transition to democracy and democracy.
When the conflict began three weeks ago, both sides thought they could easily win, several African officials said on Friday. But as the battle grew more intense, especially in Khartoum, the opposing sides seem to accept that negotiation is necessary. That realization has prompted a flurry of diplomatic efforts by African governments in recent days.
On Tuesday, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan announced that the two sides have agreed to a week-long truce and will send representatives to participate in the peace talks. On Thursday, General al-Burhan sent an envoy to meet Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, what officials say is one of the first public signs that the two generals are heeding regional and global pressure.
Discussions also began on when and where long-term discussions about power sharing or a meeting between the two generals could take place. The capitals of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya are proposed as possible options.
On Friday, Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Alfred N. Mutua, said his country was coming up with a plan to bring different political stakeholders to Kenya to discuss Sudan’s future. He said the proposal was being shared with his African, Western and Middle Eastern partners, and he hoped the process would begin in three weeks.
“We believe the concept of studying African solutions to Africa’s problems and silencing the guns in Africa is very applicable at this point,” Mr. Mutua said.
But some officials still doubt the generals’ level of commitment to lasting peace.
“Both sides are still thinking or still want a clear victory over some kind of negotiated settlement,” Volker Perthes, the United Nations special envoy to Sudan, said in a telephone interview. phone from Port Sudan on Friday.
“And so any notion of two sides coming together equally and talking about peace,” he said, “is, to my knowledge, rejected by both sides and completely disproved. rejected for the time being. And so, I think for me, the most realistic efforts right now are trying to get a ceasefire.”
Vivian Nereim Contribution report from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.