U.S. presidential envoy on way to Africa

Jan 10, 2002 (Reuters)

U.S. presidential envoy John Danforth arrives in Africa on Friday on a one-week mission to promote his proposal for an end to the Sudanese government's bombardment of southern civilians.

Danforth, a former U.S. senator, will have talks with Sudanese officials in the capital Khartoum and with representatives of the southern opposition in the south and in neighboring Kenya, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

He will also consult "the parties in the region" -- a reference to neighboring countries which have played a mediating role in the long civil war.

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army has been fighting the Sudanese government since 1983 for greater autonomy for the non-Muslim south of the country.

Danforth made his first visit to Sudan in November and a team of U.S. officials followed in December to follow up on a four-point plan designed to prepare the way for peace talks.

The U.S. official, who asked not to be named, said the team reached agreement on all points other than an end to bombardments by the Sudanese air force.

The other points in the plan were humanitarian access to the Nuba mountains in central Sudan, "days and zones of tranquility" to allow humanitarian interventions in the south and the elimination of slavery and abductions.

Danforth's first stop will be Nairobi, from where he will fly to Khartoum, a member of his party said.