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Uganda Rebels Leave Peace Talks, Seek Change of Venue


Ugandan rebels have pulled out of peace talks with the government, saying they want the talks moved to a new site.

Spokesmen for the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) said Friday their negotiators will not return to Juba, in southern Sudan.

This week, top Sudanese officials including President Omar al-Bashir made comments suggesting the rebels were no longer welcome in the country.

The rebel group said today it would prefer the talks resume in what it calls a "neutral venue" such as Kenya or South Africa.

Ugandan government negotiators expressed surprise at the rebels' decision.

There was no immediate word on where or when the talks may continue.

The rebel group said it is still committed to a "mediated and negotiated" peace deal, and that it would also respect a ceasefire it signed with the government in August.

The ceasefire raised hopes that the talks would end the LRA's 20-year uprising in northern Uganda. But the sides have made little progress since then, and remain far apart on several key issues.

The fighting in northern Uganda has killed tens of thousands of people, and forced more than 1 million others into displaced persons' camps.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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