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Sudanese Government, Rebels Open 7th Round of Darfur Talks

Sudanese officials and rebels from the Darfur region have opened a new round of African Union-sponsored peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria.

The talks got under way Tuesday with representatives of both sides expressing hope they can bring an end to nearly three years of fighting in Darfur.

The last round of talks ended in October with little progress, amid infighting within the region's main rebel group, the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM). Two rival rebel leaders, Minni Minnawi and Abdel Wahid Nur, have since agreed to put aside their differences.

The African Union says it hopes this round of talks, the 7th, will be decisive.

Negotiators say the talks are aimed at reaching a permanent cease-fire agreement and settling regional issues on wealth and power-sharing.

In a statement issued Tuesday, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said individual leaders will be judged on their immediate action to stop bloodshed in Darfur.