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Bush Calls on Sudanese Officials, Rebels to Complete Peace Agreement

President Bush has personally urged Sudan's president and its main rebel leader to resolve their differences and complete a peace agreement. Mr. Bush spoke by telephone Monday to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and to John Garang, head of the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says President Bush conveyed the same message to both men. "Both calls were upbeat and positive. The president congratulated each leader on the progress made thus far in the Sudan peace process and indicated that he was watching the peace process closely," he said.

The Sudanese government and the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Army have been negotiating for about two years in Kenya. Sudan's vice-president and Mr. Garang are there now for a new round of talks. Mr. McClellan told reporters that President Bush offered words of support.

"The president encouraged each side to demonstrate the flexibility to resolve their remaining differences and take the final steps to complete a just and comprehensive peace agreement," he said.

The White House spokesman said Mr. Bush spoke of the example a peace agreement in Sudan could set for other countries. He said the president emphasized that Sudan could be a "beacon of reconciliation."

The southern rebels and the Khartoum government have been at war for roughly 20 years, and an estimated two million Sudanese have died in the fighting. The two sides say they are aiming to finish a peace deal by the end of the year.