Sudanese government, disputing agenda, says it won't attend peace talks Wednesday

By MOHAMED OSMAN Associated Press Writer
KHARTOUM, Sudan, Jan 14, 2003 (AP)

The Sudanese government will not attend peace talks with southern rebels scheduled for Wednesday and disagrees with the agenda laid out by the Kenyan mediator, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

Sayed Khateeb said the sides had agreed in a November memorandum on what would be negotiated when talks resumed.

"The government is not sending a delegation to Nairobi on the 15th of January," Khateeb told The Associated Press. "We were expecting the resumption of the negotiations as stipulated in the memorandum."

In Nairobi, Kenyan mediator Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo has said invitations have been sent for talks resume Jan. 15. He has said they would focus on administration over three disputed areas in central Sudan under northern control that are sought by southern rebels: the Abyei area of West Kordofan, the Nuba Mountains area of Southern Kordofan and the Angasana of Blue Nile province.

Sudanese government officials have said the main item for discussion should be peace in southern Sudan, where the civil war began in 1993.

Khateeb said the Sudanese government is still waiting for a date to be set to resume talks under "the agreed-upon process."

Presidential peace adviser and chief government negotiator Ghazi Salah Eddin Attabani said in remarks reported Tuesday by Sudan's official SUNA news agency that the government remains committed to the peace process. He said talks should resume this month, but that Khartoum hadn't received any official notice of a date.