Sudanese govt., rebels begin final peace talks in Kenya

Dec 7, 2003 (Xinhua)

Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha and southern rebel leader John Garang began a new round of peace talks in Kenya on Sunday to find ways to end the country's 20-year civil war.

The face-to-face talks, widely expected to be the final round before a complete agreement, started Sunday afternoon in the Kenyan town of Naivasha, 90 km northwest of Nairobi, an official close to the meeting said.

Being mediated by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and under intense pressure from the United States, the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) led by Garang is expected to reach a comprehensive peace accord before the end of this month.

Major outstanding issues between the two parties include power- sharing, distribution of wealth and the status of three disputed regions -- Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei.

The civil war in the Sudan since 1983 has claimed nearly 2 million lives, mainly because of war-induced famine.

The current series of Sudan peace talks began in Kenya in July 2002.