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Presidents of Sudan, Eritrea Meet to Mend Relations

The presidents of Sudan and Eritrea met in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in a bid to improve relations between the two countries.

The leaders were expected to discuss the rebellion taking place in eastern Sudan, where the Eastern Front rebel group is pushing for greater autonomy and more of a share of the country's resources.

An adviser to Sudan's information minister, Rabie Abdul Atti, tells VOA that the rebellion was a bone of contention between the two countries for a long time because of what he says was Eritrea's support for the Eastern Front rebels in Sudan, a situation he says has changed.

"These Eastern Front [rebels] were boosted to a certain extent at that time. [The] Eritrean government, for awhile, it provided some assistance and some help to the core group. I think that now 90 percent of the problems between Eritrea and Sudan are removed, and there is not any reason for the relationship with Sudan to be bad," he said.

Atti says the leaders will also discuss bilateral agreements, and says the meeting is considered to be an important milestone in the two countries' diplomatic history.

VOA could not reach the Eritrean government spokesman for comment. In previous interviews, the government had denied supporting the rebels in Sudan.

Later this week, the Eritrean government is hosting talks between the Eastern Front rebels and the Sudanese government.

Several rebel groups formed the Eastern Front last year to demand more autonomy and a greater share of the country's oil, gold, and other revenues.

Their demands are similar to rebels who fought in southern Sudan and have since signed a power and wealth-sharing agreement with Khartoum.

Rebels in the western Sudan region of Darfur say they are fighting for similar reasons. The main rebel group there also recently signed an agreement with the Sudanese government.

Information adviser Atti says he believes these two agreements will pave the way for a resolution of the eastern Sudan conflict as well as improve relations with Eritrea.