The warring sides in Sudan began talks Saturday seeking to forge a firm cease-fire after three weeks of fierce fighting that has killed hundreds of people and left the African nation on the brink of collapse, the United States and Saudi Arabia said.
The negotiations, which are the first between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces, FAR, since fighting broke out on April 15, are taking place in the city of Jeddah on the Saudi Red Sea coast, according to the U.S.-Saudi statement.
The dialogue is part of a diplomatic initiative proposed by Riyadh and Washington to halt the clashes that have turned the Sudanese capital Khartoum and other urban areas into battlegrounds and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.
In their statement, Saudi Arabia and the United States urged the parties to “actively engage in talks to achieve a ceasefire and end the conflict, which will prevent the suffering of the Sudanese people.”
The statement did not offer a timetable for the talks, which follow concerted efforts by Riyadh and other international powers to pressure the warring forces to come to the negotiating table.
Since the 2021 coup that thwarted the democratic transition in Sudan, Saudi Arabia took an active role in mediating between the ruling generals and the pro-democracy movement. And when the country’s two top generals, the army and FAR commanders, clashed in April leading to the latest fighting, Jeddah became a haven for those fleeing the country by sea from Port Sudan.
Army and FAR officials said the talks will address the opening of humanitarian corridors in Khartoum and the neighboring city of Omdurman, which are at the epicenter of the battles.
A military official said they will also discuss the protection of civilian infrastructure, including.
A FAR official said they will discuss a mechanism to monitor the cease-fire, which is part of a series of truces that have failed to stop the violence.
For its part, the pro-democracy movement indicated that the dialogue in Jeddah would be “a first step” to stop the collapse of the nation and called on the leaders of both sides to take a “bold decision” to end the conflict.
At least 550 people had lost their lives as of Monday, including civilians, and more than 4,900 were injured, according to the country’s Health Ministry. The Doctors’ Union, which monitors only civilian casualties, said Friday that 473 people died as a result of the violence, and more than 2,450 were injured. ding health facilities, which have been overwhelmed and are severely understaffed and short of supplies