Secretary of State Colin Powell joined Kenyan-sponsored Sudan peace talks, securing a pledge by the Khartoum government and southern rebels to finish a comprehensive peace accord by the end of the year. Mr. Powell is enroute from Nairobi to Madrid and the international donors conference for Iraq.
Mr. Powell reported progress on dividing political power and Sudanese oil revenues, though some issues remain unresolved, including the status of three contested areas from the 20-year-old civil conflict.
But after meeting the parties and Kenyan mediators at the lakeside town of Naivasha, he said Sudanese Vice President Ali Othman Taha and southern rebel leader John Garang have pledged to keep working and finalize a deal by year's end:
"Both gentlemen have committed themselves to that goal of having a comprehensive settlement by the end of December. Once the parties have signed the final comprehensive agreement for peace, President Bush looks forward, and has invited them to come to the White House, so that he can recognize their achievement and also endorse the agreement."
The Sudan conflict, which pitted the Islamic government in Khartoum against Christian and animist rebels seeking autonomy for the south, killed two-million people in fighting and war related famine. Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka says the peace process is now "irreversible."