The US and Saudi Arabia governments have confirmed that direct talks between the warring Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces will begin in Jeddah on Saturday. The ongoing fighting in the Sudanese capital has shown little signs of abating.
A joint statement from the US and Saudi Arabia welcomes the “start of pre-negotiation talks” and encourages sustained global support in order to quell the fighting.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States urge both parties to consider the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people, actively engaging in the talks towards a ceasefire and an end to the conflict,” the statement said.
Hundreds of people have died in nearly three weeks of fighting between forces aligned with Sudan’s de facto leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the regular army, and his deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Since the fighting erupted on 15 April, both parties have achieved multiple truces, but neither party has respected any of them.
Envoys To Saudi Arabia
Late on Friday, the army announced that it had sent envoys to Saudi Arabia. This is to engage in discussions with its paramilitary adversaries regarding the “details of the truce, which is currently being extended.”
Burhan had given his backing to a seven-day ceasefire announced on Wednesday, but early on Friday, the RSF said it was extending by three days a previous truce brokered under US-Saudi mediation.
The US-Saudi statement noted the efforts of other countries and organisations behind this weekend’s talks, including Britain, the United Arab Emirates, the League of Arab States, the African Union and other groups.
In Khartoum, witnesses reported continued airstrikes and explosions on Friday, including near the airport.
The fighting raged despite a threat of sanctions from US president, Joe Biden, against those responsible for “threatening the peace, security and stability of Sudan” and “undermining Sudan’s democratic transition”.