ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP) – The first peace talks in almost two years between Khartoum and rebels from South Kordofan state have stalled over the issue of humanitarian access, both sides said on Saturday.
“We want to create humanitarian access with the SPLM-North, but they are unwilling to work with us according to the joint humanitarian agreement signed last year because they do not trust us,” said Hussein Karshoum, an adviser in Sudan’s delegation.
Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North last year signed memorandums to allow aid throughout the war zone of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but the agreements were never implemented.
“We want an unconditional cessation of hostilities” which would open up corridors to humanitarian access, SPLM-N chief negotiator Yasir Arman told AFP.
“Khartoum is breaking international convention and endangering hundreds of thousands of civilians by politicising humanitarian access,” he added.
The talks, brokered by the African Union, started on Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital.
The AU said negotiations are expected to resume in May and heralded both sides for coming together for the first direct meeting since June 2011.
Despite the deadlocked positions on humanitarian access, Karshoum said there was some progress and Sudan was open to resuming talks.
“We are hoping that when we meet again we can make a joint humanitarian security agreement,” he said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said last week he was “encouraged by the start of the direct talks”.
More than 200,000 people have fled the war zone for South Sudan and Ethiopia as refugees, while an estimated one million more have been affected inside South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where fighting began nearly two years ago.