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No Progress in Saudi Sudan Peace Talks

FILE: Damaged cars and buildings are seen at the central market during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan April 27, 2023.

RIYADH - Air strikes again shook Sudan's capital Monday while the latest truce talks in Jeddah have yielded no progress, with a Saudi diplomat saying both sides consider themselves "capable of winning the battle."

A Saudi diplomat told AFP on Monday that "no major progress is achieved so far."

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

The U.N.'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 U.N. official said on Monday that Griffiths had "asked to join the negotiations" but that his request had not been approved so far.

The talks "will continue in the following days," the Saudi foreign ministry said, without specifying a clear timeline.

Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, 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 have described as "pre-negotiation talks."

Goals include reaching "an effective short-term halt" to the fighting, facilitating aid delivery, restoring basic services and setting "a timetable for expanded negotiations to reach a permanent cessation of hostilities," the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement Monday.

The two sides have "begun to discuss the security measures they should take in order to facilitate the delivery of urgent humanitarian aid and the restoration of essential services," the statement said.

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 people from numerous countries 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 organize 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, U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan thanked the Saudi crown prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler, "for the support Saudi Arabia has provided to U.S. citizens during the evacuation from Sudan," the White House said in a statement.