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Sudan Talks to Resume on Southern Kordofan, Mbeki Says

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- Sudan is ready to resume negotiations to end clashes in the border state of Southern Kordofan, former South African President Thabo Mbeki said, denying that Umar al-Bashir’s government had pulled out of the talks.

Mbeki, the African Union-appointed mediator for Sudan, said today that negotiations between President al-Bashir’s government and the northern branch of South Sudan’s ruling party would resume after the south gains independence tomorrow. He travelled to Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, on July 6.

“We met Bashir two days ago and he did not say the framework agreement has collapsed and he did not say he is turning his back on negotiations between the SPLM north and the government,” Mbeki told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Al-Bashir said yesterday his government was no longer prepared to negotiate on Southern Kordofan outside the country. “There will be no more negotiations outside Sudan,” he told a rally in White Nile state in a speech televised live on the state Sudan TV station.

Clashes between Sudanese government forces and troops loyal to Southern Sudan’s army in Southern Kordofan have forced more than 73,000 people to flee their homes since June 5, according to the United Nations. The fighting there and in the disputed border region of Abyei raised concern about the possible resumption of a two-decade civil war that ended in 2005.

To contact the reporters on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net; Maram Mazen in Khartoum via the Cairo newsroom at mmazen@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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