Sudan ready for rebel talks, despite deadly attack

AFP , Sunday 14 Apr 2013

Sudanese government ready to hold talks with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a rebel group in South Kordofan known for carrying out anti-government attacks

Sudan is still willing to talk with rebels in South Kordofan, the government said on Sunday, despite the deadly weekend bombardment of the state's capital.

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) told AFP on Sunday it carried out the Friday afternoon shelling after being "provoked" by the government.

The attack came as President Omar al-Bashir held talks in the South Sudanese capital Juba with his counterpart Salva Kiir in a symbol of easing tensions, particularly over the South's alleged support for SPLM-N.

"We are ready to talk" to the SPLM-N, the official SUNA news agency quoted Ibrahim Ghandour, head of the government's negotiating team, as saying.

"We are waiting for the time of the negotiation."

The government had long rejected talks with the SPLM-N, which has been fighting for almost two years in South Kordofan and another state, Blue Nile.

But on April 1 Bashir said his administration seeks a broad political dialogue, "including (with) those who are armed".

He also announced amnesty for all political prisoners, although only 11 are known to have been released, none from the SPLM-N.

The rebels have said they are ready to talk on the basis of a UN resolution passed last year, but the government wants to use a different framework.

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