Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) — In a rare political conta-ct with US President George W.
Bush Tuesday, Sudanese President Omar Hassan el-Bashir expressed total commitment to sign the comprehensive peace agreement meant to end the bloody conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.
According to the official SUNA news agency, Bashir received a telephone call from Bush, who expressed his concern over the situation in the Darfur region as Washington urges the rebels to move ongoing peace talks in Nigeria forward.
"President Bashir reiterated the national unity government's commitment and determination to reach a peace agreement and achieve stability in Darfur," SUNA said.
The Sudanese government and the two Darfur rebel groups face a Tuesday night deadline to reach a deal after African Union mediators gave the rebels a two-day extension.
Washington, which has accused Khartoum and its allied Janjaweed militia of genocide against non-Arab minority groups in Darfur, announced Monday it was sending Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to the talks in Abuja.
Pushed by the growing pressure from the international community, the Sudanese government has said it is ready to sign the draft peace agreement submitted to the warring parties but rebel leaders have expressed misgivings about the proposals for sharing wealth and power between the central and regional governments.
However, SUNA said in a fresh report from the talks venue that AU's mediation on Darfur talks has given the parties 24 hours more, while the Chairman of African Union and the head of AU executive are heading to Abuja.
The AU mediation extended the deadline of Darfur peace talks for more 24 hours to give regional and international efforts more time to consult the Sudanese parties in the negotiations, the agency assured.
While, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick arrived in Abuja Tuesday, SUNA reported that President of Congo and Chairman of the African Union Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Alpha Omer Konare are due in Abuja Tuesday as part of the African concern with the negotiations.
Zoellick promptly entered into intensive meetings with the African mediation and the parties to the negotiations.
He was expected to meet the chairman of the government side in the negotiations, Dr.
Magzoub Al-Khalifa, Tuesday.
An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here said the American pressure and the arrival of Zoellick in Abuja affirm the degree of the international community's concern to find a speedy solution to Darfur problem and convince the armed movements to accept the African agreement document.
Diplomats in Khartoum also said one of the main stumbling blocks to a peace agreement was that Minni Arcua Minnawi, leader of the most powerful of the three rebel factions, was being undermined by some of his former allies because of a crisis in Chad.
Minnawi is an ethnic ally of Chadian President Idriss Deby, who is facing rebel fighters he accuses of fronting for Sudan.
But Minnawi's friends in Chad accuse him of abandoning Deby and selling out to Khartoum, which makes it difficult for him to sign any deal.
Under a US proposal, a section of the AU draft accord that requires the government to disarm the Janjaweed before the rebels lay down their weapons would be amended to better suit the government.
In return, Khartoum would accept a detailed plan for integration of specific numbers of rebel fighters into the Sudanese security forces.
This is a key rebel demand.