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Chad, Sudan Talks Face Delays, Doubts

Chad President Idriss Deby has arrived in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, where mediators are hoping he will meet with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. But delays and accusations between the two sides have cast doubt on the success of the planned talks. Nancy Palus reports from Dakar these are to be held on the sidelines of the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting.

Chad's president arrived in a city transformed for the Islamic conference.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also came to attend the planned meeting between Mr. Deby and Mr. Bashir, which is turning into the most anticipated event of the week.

For years, the Chad and Sudan leaders have accused one another of fomenting rebellions in their respective countries.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has been sending emissaries to the two capitals in preparation for the meeting.

But Sudanese officials expressed concerns about some text of a proposed agreement. They said they were worried about procedures of implementation.

Chad Foreign Minister Ahmat Allam-mi expressed doubt over Sudan's commitment to the peace talks.

Chad and Sudan have signed several peace accords in the past, each of which has failed to bring stability to the region.

Sudanese officials blame Mr. Deby for backing rebels active in Sudan's Darfur region. In February, President Deby blamed Sudan for backing a rebel offensive in the capital, N'djamena.

Chadian rebels who have bases in Sudan have several times tried to overthrow Deby, who came to power in a coup in 1990 and has since won two disputed elections - one after changing the constitution to run for an additional term.

Roland Marchal, who is an Africa specialist in Paris, says peace between Chad and Sudan remains unlikely without a resolution of Chad's internal problems.

"The main issue in Chad - whatever is the international perception - is a problem between [Mr.] Deby and his internal opposition, either civilian or armed," he said. "They have grievances. They want those grievances to be addressed. We should be extremely doubtful about the signature of such a deal that does not correspond to discussions with all the concerned actors."

The Chad-Sudan border region is awash in rebels and militias, and armed conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.