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US Eyes April 18 to Potentially Resume Sudan Peace Talks in Jeddah

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The United States is eyeing April 18 for the potential resumption of Sudan peace talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as part of Washington’s efforts to mitigate a dire humanitarian disaster and prevent the conflict from escalating into a regional war.

Nearly a year into Sudan’s civil war, the country is grappling with the world’s largest internal displacement crisis.

Tom Perriello, U.S. special envoy for Sudan, told reporters on Tuesday that these talks need to be “inclusive,” involving the African Union, the East African bloc IGAD, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

“We need the partners in the room who are necessary to get this war to end,” he said.

Perriello warned that the conflict in Sudan is not just a disaster for civilians but could easily become “a more factionalized and regional war.”

“There’s an important donor conference in Paris on the 15th,” Perriello said, referring to a planned ministerial meeting in April to relieve Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. “And we would certainly see natural momentum from that to return to Jeddah if the Saudis are indeed going to host inclusive talks.”

The United States and Saudi Arabia have brokered multiple cease-fires between Sudan’s warring parties and facilitated talks in Jeddah last year, but the negotiations stumbled amid competing international peace efforts.

The United Nations, the African Union and regional group IGAD have all appointed special representatives on Sudan. Gulf states have also convened a series of meetings in Jeddah and in Bahrain’s capital, Manama.

Fighting erupted in April last year between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Once allies in Sudan’s transitional government after a 2021 coup, the two generals have turned into rivals for power.

U.S. officials have said their priority in Sudan is to secure a peace deal that immediately ends the violence, ensures full humanitarian access to all citizens and facilitates the country’s return to civilian governance.

In January, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions targeting entities funding the conflict in Sudan. However, analysts have pointed out the challenges faced by Washington and the constraints of time.

“A political appointee arriving in the job in potentially the last year of the [Biden] administration he serves is dealing from a weak deck already,” said Cameron Hudson, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The possibility that his interlocutors could simply choose to wait him out is quite real.”

He added that attempts to merge various peace initiatives are “likely not a productive use of time given the calamitous state of Sudan’s fighting and humanitarian situations.”

The war has led to thousands of deaths, a massive displacement crisis and large-scale atrocities, particularly against non-Arab communities in the country’s Darfur region.

On March 8, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a cease-fire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but the warring parties have ignored it.

Sudan is now home to the world’s largest internal displacement crisis, with 6.3 million people forced from their homes in search of safety. Another 1.7 million have fled to neighboring countries. More than 70% of health facilities in conflict areas have stopped functioning.

U.S. officials have also warned that Sudan’s civil war could trigger the world’s largest hunger crisis.

“I am headed to the refugee camps in Chad with a CODEL [congressional delegation] that’s going in a couple of days. Even in those camps, there are children who are living on less than one meal a day,” said Perriello, referring to refugee camps in Chad that take in Sudanese civilians.

Last week, the United States announced over $47 million in humanitarian assistance for the emergency response in Sudan and neighboring countries, including Chad and South Sudan.

VOA’s Margaret Besheer contributed this report from the United Nations.

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