U.S. sees "make-or-break" on Sudan peace deal

April 6 (Reuters)

Talks this week between Sudan's government and southern rebels are "make-or-break" for efforts to end their 20-year civil war, the U.S. government said on Tuesday.

The conflict in Sudan, which has claimed about 2 million lives, broadly pits the Islamist government in Khartoum against the mainly animist or Christian south. It is complicated by issues of oil, ethnicity and ideology.

The talks have stalled in recent weeks over the status of the oil-rich Abyei area, which is claimed by both sides.

U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State Charles Snyder has gone to Naivasha, Kenya where peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army are taking place.

"The point that we are making to both the SPLA and the government of Sudan is that this is make-or-break time in the negotiations. It's time to bring the process to a conclusion this week," said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. "That's what we're hoping to see."

Kenyan mediators said the two sides were close to agreement on Abyei and on the question of power-sharing.