Sudan and Darfur's most active rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, has signed a declaration of good intentions in Doha. Qatar has been mediating talks between Khartoum and the rebel group since last Tuesday. 

The Sudanese government and Darfur's most powerful rebel group signed a pact for future peace negotiations, but failed to agree on a cease-fire, after a week of talks.

The deal meditated in Qatar has laid the foundation for a second round of talks that will aim to address core issues in the six-year conflict.  One of the Qatari mediators, Ahmad bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud, says the agreement includes measures to aid and protect refugees in Darfur.

The conflict in Sudan's Western region, Darfur, began in 2003, between rebel militia groups and Sudanese government forces fighting for control of the region.  Since then, the United Nations estimates more than 200,000 people have been killed and another 2.2 million people displaced.

Neha Erasmus the program coordinator at Justice Africa based in London says the accord is a step in the right direction.

"All steps toward peace, I think, are positive and definitely, this is a step.  But the problem with these peace talks is that it is only between JEM and the government.  And JEM is not recognizing other rebel groups and other rebel groups are very clearly stating that JEM is seeking power by itself.  You cannot have peace with such complex issues unless all the stakeholders are there and on board," said Erasmus.

The sides also agreed to exchange prisoners, but other rebel factions are refusing to talk to Khartoum and say the peace drive will fail without them.  Qatar, the United Nations, African Union and Arab League have said the talks are preliminary and intended to pave the way for a broader peace conference on Darfur.

The second round of negotiations between the sides is to take place in two weeks in Doha.  Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani says other groups among Darfur's numerous rebel factions are welcome to join the peace effort.