NEW YORK (AA) : The US and Saudi Arabia welcomed the start of ”pre-negotiation talks” Friday between warring parties in Sudan.
The two countries said in a statement that representatives from the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group would start direct talks May 6 in Jeddah.
The conflict-hit African nation has been engulfed by violence for weeks with fighting between the army and the RSF.
Washington and Riyadh urged both parties to actively engage in talks toward a cease-fire and an end to the conflict.
They also urged continued, coordinated international support for an expanded negotiation process that should include engagement with all Sudanese parties.
Fighting between two rival generals — army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohammed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo — broke out April 15, leaving more than 550 people dead.
A disagreement had been fomenting in recent months between the two sides concerning the integration of the RSF into the armed forces — a key condition of Sudan’s transition agreement with political groups.
Sudan has been without a functioning government since October 2021 when the military dismissed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government and declared a state of emergency in a move decried by political forces as a “coup.”
The transitional period, which started in August 2019 after the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, was scheduled to end with elections in early 2024.