Khartoum — The African Union said informal talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) would resume in the German capital Berlin on 22 January.
In addition, the first 'mini-rounds' between the government and the Darfur rebel movements (JEM and SLM-MM) will be held in Dberzi, 50 kilometres from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. These informal talks are aimed at reaching a settlement between the parties to the conflict on 23 January.
Director of the African Union's Liaison Office in Khartoum, Mahmoud Kan told Sudan Media Center on Thursday that the talks with the Darfur movements will take the output of the recent Paris meeting between the Darfur rebels and the Qatari mediation into consideration, expecting the parties reach "peaceful solutions that serve Sudan's interests."
Meanwhile Mubarak Ardol, spokesman for the SPLM-N, told Radio Dabanga on Sunday that they "welcome any call for peace as a strategic option". Ardol claimed, however, that the government is currently making extensive preparations for a major offensive in South Kordofan, which he says the rebels are ready to counter.
Last December, the government and the SPLM-N held a round of informal talks that was considered a success as the warring parties were able to better understand the positions of the opponent. The AU mediators expressed their hope that similar meetings on the Darfur conflict could break the stalled peace track.
A member of the government negotiating team, Bishara Juma Aror, noted in December that there have been significant new understandings reached between the warring parties after the last meeting in Addis Ababa. "The African mediators and UN envoy were surprised by the outcome of the informal talks, after the two sides developed a strong confidence between them," he said.
The SPLM-N and the Sudanese government have been fighting each other in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile since 2011. Both parties announced a unilateral ceasefire earlier in 2015 as a sign of goodwill, and the Sudanese government promised amnesty to SPLM-N leaders if they would join the National Dialogue in Khartoum.