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Sudan Talks Resume Despite Boycott Threat

Peace talks for Sudan's Darfur region have resumed in Nigeria, but rebel delegates asked for several demands to be met immediately before they can continue.

The opening session of the African Union-brokered talks opened 24 hours late Saturday with just thirty minutes of speeches by different representatives.

Afterwards, members of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement said they wouldn't begin negotiations unless they are assured government attacks stop in Darfur and that the African Union condemns recent attacks near the towns of Bilel and Isham.

The rebels also called on government troops to return to their barracks. Government negotiators immediately responded, saying this was impossible, because government forces were ensuring security and clearing areas of what they called lawless elements, following renewed rebel attacks.

The previous talks adjourned in November with agreements reinforcing a ceasefire and the protection of refugees, but these have been ignored.

African Union mediators have expressed hope they could reach a comprehensive peace agreement to end the 22-month conflict which has killed tens of thousands of people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

The rebels, non-Arab Africans, say they are fighting against Arab-led government troops and militias for more autonomy and a larger share of oil wealth.

The United Nations envoy to Sudan has said he fears this round of negotiations could be headed for failure if the warring parties don't stop fighting.