Critical Moment in Darfur Peace Talks

The U.S. and the U.K. may be on the verge of finding a non-military way to end the conflict in Darfur and reverse ethnic cleansing. If they do, then Bush and Blair should be given credit for doing so.

U.S. diplomats tried on Wednesday to extract concessions from the government of Sudan that could persuade rebels from the Darfur region to sign up to a draft peace agreement designed to end three years of war.

The government has accepted the deal on security, power-sharing and wealth-sharing proposed by African Union (AU) mediators, but three Darfur rebel factions refuse to sign, citing objections on a wide range of issues.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick held a second round of talks with the government delegation on Wednesday. Zoellick arrived on Tuesday in the Nigerian capital Abuja, venue of the talks, as Washington increased pressure for a deal.

“It all comes down to a power play between Washington and Khartoum, and whether the Americans can wrangle enough out of the Sudanese so that they can then go to the rebels and say ‘here’s what we’ve got for you’,” said a Western diplomat who is closely involved in the talks.