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SUDAN - Sept. 26 - Pres. Bashir And Opposition Group Hold Talks.

Pres. Bashir holds his 1st talks with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) opposition group formed 8 years ago and declares them a success. The President says he agreed in his talks with the leader of NDA, Mohammed Osman Al Mirghani, that dialogue was the way to resolve their differences. (The meeting is held in the Eritrean capital, Asmara). Pres. Bashir says: "The exploratory meeting we had was successful", adding: "We agreed that dialogue and not military means is the way of resolving problems". Sudan's Culture and Information minister, Dr. Ghazi Salah Al Din, who attended the talks, says the government delegation and the NDA agreed to hold direct talks in the future. Bashir earlier held talks with Eritrean Pres. Isayas Afewerki, who has been mediating between the 2 sides. (Ties between Sudan and Eritrea have long been strained, with Sudan often accusing its eastern neighbour of amassing its troops on the border and of aiding the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and their Eritrea-based NDA allies. The SPLA has been fighting for autonomy for the mainly Christian or animist south from the Muslim, Arabized north since 1983 in a civil war said to have cost up to 2m lives. The SPLA has been taking part in the latest of many rounds of separate, Kenyan-hosted peace talks with the Sudan government.) An NDA official said before the talks that the group sought official recognition from the Khartoum government and wanted parts of the constitution revised, including the removal of the National Security Act. The official said: "We have to agree on a general framework which will result in a forum for negotiation in which the 2 parties will commit themselves to negotiate in one forum." (The opposition Umma party walked out of the NDA in April after the party, led by former PM Sadeq Al Mahdi, made a separate reconciliation pact with Bashir.) Culture Minister Din says Bashir and the Eritrean president discussed bilateral relations.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6ERIT
Date:Sep 30, 2000
Words:325
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