Sudan ceasefire respected "on the whole" in Nuba, EU says after tour

Feb 19 (AFP)

European Union ambassadors found that a four-week old ceasefire in Sudan's Nuba Mountains has been respected "on the whole" and urged all sides to seek a comprehensive peace, an EU statement said Tuesday.

The EU heads of mission in Khartoum, who visited the Nuba region late last week, "welcomed the fact that the ceasefire has so far on the whole been respected by both sides," according to an EU statement sent by the German Embassy.

They agreed that support should now be focused on "moving the ceasefire into a comprehensive and sustainable peace," the press statement said.

It added that the ambassadors discussed with both parties the cause of the nearly 19 years of civil war and the perspectives to "turn the present situation into a durable reconciliation process."

The envoys held talks with officials of the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) as well as tribal leaders during a visit to Nuba on Thursday and Friday, the German embassy said.

The diplomats agreed that there was an urgent need for confidence-building measures, "such as direct talks between political leaders and contacts at grass-root levels," the statement said.

The ambassadors were convinced that only a rapid response by the international community to "cope with the urgent needs of the most vulnerable parts of the population, including further delivery of food aid, tools and seeds, water pumps and medicines and the immediate deployment of the joint military commission can preserve the positive development" following the signing of the ceasefire agreement, the statement said.

It said the visit falls within the EU-Sudan political dialogue, which was renewed about two years ago after a suspension of four years because of the civil war, allegations of terrorism and human rights abuses, and other issues.

The ceasefire, which was reached during US-brokered talks in Switzerland, took effect in the Nuba Mountains on January 22. It is one of several confidence-building steps proposed by a US mediation effort launched in September.