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African Union Chief Plans Sudan Visit After Khartoum Attack
17/05/2008 17:35:00
African Union chief Jean Ping will visit Sudan in a bid to ease tensions between ‎Khartoum and arch-rival Chad after a failed rebel attack on the Sudanese capital, an ‎African Union official said Tuesday.

Ping, alongside African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane ‎Lamamra, will travel to Khartoum on Friday, days after the army defeated an ‎unprecedented attack on Khartoum by Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality ‎Movement, the official told AFP.

Chad closed its border with Sudan on Monday, ramping up tensions between the ‎volatile neighbors after Khartoum accused Ndjamena of backing the rebel assault on ‎the Sudanese capital.

‎"We are leaving for Khartoum to evaluate the situation on the ground where we are ‎going to meet all stakeholders, including the president (Omar al-Beshir)," Ping told a ‎press conference here.

‎"We are also planning to visit Chad, but we have to organize a meeting," he added.

‎"We are looking into the issue of nominating a negotiator who, according to our ‎assessment, will be part of a way to push dialogue between the stakeholders."

Ping said: "The cutting of diplomatic relations was a step that had been taken before, ‎‎(but) we have to bring both parties together and normalize relations."

Relations have been tense between the two countries since 2003 when war broke out ‎in Darfur, sending hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing across the ‎Chadian border.

The two countries broke off relations for four months in 2006 after Chadian President ‎Idriss Deby Itno accused Sudan of arming rebels who launched an earlier coup ‎attempt that year.

His government on Monday froze the activities of a Sudanese bank operating in Chad, ‎banned all financial transactions between the two countries, and said it was ‎designating Libya to represent its interests in Sudan.

It also banned Sudanese music from being played.

Sudan severed diplomatic ties with Chad on Sunday, accusing Ndjamena of backing ‎the rebel assault on Khartoum. Chad denied the charge.

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