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Sudan Peace Talks Underway in Kenya - 2004-02-17

Another round of peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and the country's southern-based rebels is underway in the Kenyan town of Naivasha. The talks adjourned last month so that Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha could make a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The upcoming round of talks are expected to continue through March 16.

Sudanese Vice President Taha and the leader of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army, John Garang, are meeting in Naivasha to try to resolve two issues standing in the way of a comprehensive peace agreement.

Observers say the most contentious is the question of which side will get control of three areas in central Sudan: the Nuba Mountains, the Southern Blue Nile, and the oil-rich Abyei region. While the areas are not a part of southern Sudan, the rebels claim to represent the people living there.

The latest effort to end the south's two decade-long civil war is taking place just as a separate conflict is raging in the western Darfur region. It is unclear how much the conflict between Sudanese government troops and western rebels in Darfur will affect the Naivasha talks.

The Sudanese government and southern rebels have signed deals on security and wealth sharing, but the two sides have missed self-imposed deadlines to reach a final deal.