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EU Envoy to Sudan Urges All Parties in Darfur to Join Peace Deal

The international community is continuing its push for a political solution to the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region. The European Union's special representative to Sudan says efforts are under way to sign holdout Darfuri rebels onto the Darfur Peace Agreement, as Noel King reports for VOA from Khartoum.

EU Special Representative Pekka Haavisto says Darfur rebels and the government of Sudan are renewing efforts to hash out an acceptable Darfur peace deal.

Haavisto told reporters in Khartoum that he is optimistic a political solution to the crisis can be found.

"We have finally got the political track moving again," he said. "There is now a clear perspective that new talks and new engagements will start with non-signatories of the DPA."

Only one faction of Darfur's rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) signed on to the May 5 African Union-brokered agreement.

Another faction of the SLA, along with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement refused to sign.

Last year, several rebel factions combined to form the National Redemption Front, a powerful resistance movement, which has refused the Darfur peace deal.

Holdout rebels say the current peace agreement does not meet their demands for equitable sharing of wealth and power.

But Sudan has long insisted it will not amend the accord, casting some doubt on the viability of renewed talks.

Haavisto urged rebels to consider their demands. "I think the message from the international community is that they have to be very reasonable in their claims. Maybe here and there some amendments and additions can be made, but basically many of the concerns are already included in the Darfur Peace Agreement," he added.

On Wednesday, visiting U.S. envoy Bill Richardson, governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico, issued a joint statement with Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir, announcing that Darfur rebel commanders and the Sudanese government had agreed to a 60-day ceasefire.

It is unclear when the ceasefire will begin.

The Darfur conflict will soon enter its fourth year.

Sudan is charged with arming militias, called janjaweed, to crush a 2003 rebellion using a savage campaign of rape and murder, targeting civilians.

At least 200,000 people are believed to have died, with more than 2.5 million more displaced in Darfur and eastern Chad.