Saudi diplomat says 'no major progress' in Sudan talks

AFP , Monday 8 May 2023

Ceasefire talks in Saudi Arabia between Sudan's warring generals have yielded "no major progress" so far, a Saudi diplomat told AFP on Monday, dampening hopes for a quick end to the fighting.

Sudan talks
In this picture taken on May 7, 2023, smoke billows in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting between the forces of two rival generals. AFP


Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), sent representatives to the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on Saturday for meetings that Washington and Riyadh described as "pre-negotiation talks".

The Sudanese army has said they will address how a truce "can be correctly implemented to serve the humanitarian side".

Beyond that, Sudanese and Saudi officials have provided scant information about what the talks will cover or how long they will last.

"No major progress is achieved so far," the Saudi diplomat said on Monday.

"A permanent ceasefire isn't on the table. Every side believes it is capable of winning the battle."

The UN's top humanitarian official, Martin Griffiths, arrived in Jeddah on Sunday intending to meet representatives of both camps, though his role in the process is unclear.

A spokesperson for Griffiths said on Sunday that he had arrived in Jeddah "to engage in humanitarian issues related to Sudan".

A separate UN official said on Monday that Griffiths had "asked to join the negotiations" but that his request had not been approved so far.

Multiple truce deals have been declared, without effect, since fighting erupted on April 15 in the poverty-stricken country with a history of instability.

Fierce combat has killed hundreds of people, wounded thousands and sparked multiple warnings of a "catastrophic" humanitarian crisis.

More than 100,000 people have already fled the country.

Saudi Arabia has assumed a major role in evacuations from Sudan, dispatching naval and commercial vessels to bring thousands of civilians across the Red Sea from the Sudanese coastal city of Port Sudan.

On Sunday, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed $100 million to be donated for assistance to Sudan, including medical aid and help for displaced people, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi officials will also organise a public donations campaign "to mitigate the effects of the conditions that the Sudanese people are currently going through", the agency said.

In a Sunday meeting, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan thanked the Saudi crown prince, "for the support Saudi Arabia has provided to US citizens during the evacuation from Sudan", the White House said in a statement.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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