Sudan peace talks to resume after agenda spat

21 Jan (Reuters)

Talks to end Sudan's 19-year civil war are due to resume in Kenya on Wednesday after mediators said they had ironed out a dispute which delayed last week's scheduled meeting.

The talks had been due to resume on January 15 in the Kenyan town of Machakos but the Sudanese government refused to send its delegation, saying it had not agreed to discuss the status of three disputed regions on the agenda.

"We held a symposium over the past few days in order to iron out the conflict issues, and we are now ready to proceed with the main talks tomorrow," Chief mediator Lazarus Sumbeiywo of Kenya told Reuters on Tuesday.

He said the two sides had agreed that the status of the Nuba, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei areas would be dealt with separately at a later stage in the peace process. Both sides claim the areas.

An estimated two million people have died since Sudan's war began in 1983. The rebels, based in the south which is mostly animist with some Christians and Muslims, have been fighting for more autonomy from the mainly Muslim north.

Officials from both sides said they would attend Wednesday's talks, expected to tackle the issues of sharing power and dividing up the country's oil revenues.

In July, the talks produced a major breakthrough, when both sides agreed to let the south hold a referendum on independence following a six-year transition period.

A second phase of talks, which broke off after Christmas, ended with the two sides extending a ceasefire until March 31. Both sides have since accused the other of breaking the truce.