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Sudan Peace Talks Adjourned

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki says Sudan peace talks have been adjourned to allow parties to study a draft cessation of hostilities agreement.

The African Union has adjourned talks between Sudan and opposition movements in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states to allow parties to the negotiations to study a draft cessation of hostilities agreement, lead AU negotiator Thabo Mbeki said Tuesday.

“We have prepared some additional documents which we have handed to both parties, suggestions about some additional elements ... which are necessary to conclude the agreement," Mbeki told reporters in Addis Ababa.

"So we thought that it would be important for the parties to have a little bit of time to reflect on these additional documents we have submitted to them," he said.

The former South African president said he expected negotiations would resume before the end of the month.

Sudanese government negotiator Ibrahim Ghandoor said both sides should focus on Sudan's diverse culture to smooth the way for peace in Sudan.

The opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) said it was grateful for the efforts by all sides to try to bring an end to the war in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

SPLM-North chief negotiator Yassir Arman said his side is committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. “I believe there is a chance and this chance should be seized by all Sudanese," he said.

"We should end war all over Sudan, from Blue Nile to South Kordorfan, theNuba Mountains and Darfur. We are ready and we are committed in the SPLM-North and the Sudan Revolutionary Front -- the SRF -- to work with you and to make things happen in Sudan.”

Arman called for a national dialogue that includes political parties, civil society groups and all anti-government groups, to be held after a cessation of hostilities agreement is signed. He said it would be key to achieving peace in Sudan.

Mbeki said separate talks between Khartoum and two anti-government groups in Darfur are due to begin next week.

Fighting erupted in the Nuba Mountains in Southern Kordofan, and in Blue Nile in June 2011, the year South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to become an independent country.

The war in Darfur has been raging for more than a decade. The U.N. estimates that at least 300,000 people have died in Darfur since fighting broke out in 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll closer to 10,000.