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SUDAN

Deadlock in dispute over Abyei oil region

KHARTOUM | Talks have stalled between Sudan’s rival northern and southern halves over the disputed oil-producing Abyei region and could reignite a conflict that claimed millions of lives, the region’s leader said on Sunday.

Abyei has been the most contentious dispute between the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the ruling northern National Congress Party, both before and after a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa’s longest running civil war.

The conflict was fought over religion, ethnicity, ideology and oil — most of which lies along the north-south border. It claimed 2 million lives, say aid agencies, mostly from hunger and disease and destabilized much of east Africa.

South Sudan will vote in a referendum on independence in January, and Abyei should hold a simultaneous vote on whether to join the south.

But the partners cannot agree on the make up of the Abyei referendum commission, who will be able to vote or whether to hold long-delayed elections there.

EGYPT

Peres, Mubarak discuss direct peace talks

CAIRO | Israeli President Shimon Peres and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussed on Sunday efforts to relaunch direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Egyptian president said.

The two men discussed “the peace process in the Middle East and means to move from indirect negotiations to serious direct negotiations,” Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad told reporters after the meeting in Cairo.

Israel and the Palestinians currently are locked in a round of U.S.-brokered proximity negotiations, although the international community is trying to encourage both parties to move to face-to-face talks.

Last week, foreign ministers from the Arab League agreed in principle to the resumption of direct peace talks, but left the timing of when they should start in the hands of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Abbas has so far refused to engage in direct talks without first a freeze of Jewish settlements and guarantees over the borders of a future Palestinian state.

INDIA

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