May 6 (UPI) — Representatives of Sudan’s military government and the breakaway Rapid Support Forces began cease-fire negotiations in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Saudi officials said.
The talks between the warning factions were launched in the Saudi city Jeddah, according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
The U.S. and Saudi governments said they “welcome the start of pre-negotiation talks between representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces” in a joint statement issued Friday.
Both nations urged the factions “to take in consideration the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people and actively engage in the talks towards a cease fire and end to the conflict.”
In April, fighting broke out between the military government of Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who seized power via a military coup in 2021, and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Al-Burhan’s former ally Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The Rapid Support Forces are an irregular military group, largely composed of Janjaweed militiamen, notorious for their role in the Darfur genocide, who have been previously deployed by Al-Burhan’s forces to crush opposition to his regime.
The latest fighting started amidst negotiations over the integration of the RSF into the military ahead of a proposed return to civilian rule.
Dagalo expressed support for the negotiations.
In a tweet Saturday, Dagalo said. “We praise the regional and international efforts, and we hope to reach a cease-fire that facilitates the opening of humanitarian corridors to enable the citizens to obtain basic services.”
Both Al-Burhan and Dagalo previously received support from the Russian Federation.
The latest round of fighting was preceded by an uptick in activity by mercenaries working for the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group in the region, CNN reported.
Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin denied supporting the RSF.
“Let me reiterate once more: Wagner PMC is in no way involved in the Sudanese conflict,” he said on Telegram.
As of April 24, the World Health Organization said 413 people were killed in the fighting, while the Sudanese Armed Forces said over 500 people had been killed by the end of last month.