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Sudan's warring parties arrive in Geneva for U.N.-hosted talks on possible local cease-fires

GENEVA — (AP) — Sudan's warring parties have arrived in Geneva at the invitation of the United Nations to discuss the protection of civilians through possible local cease-fires, U.N. officials said Thursday. But one side did not show up for the talks on the first day.

Senior representatives from the Sudanese army and rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces accepted invitations to meet separately with the U.N. secretary-general’s personal envoy, Ramtane Lamamra, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman at U.N. headquarters in New York, told reporters.

Lamamra invited both parties to separate “proximity talks” on Thursday morning but “regrettably one of the delegations did not come to the session,” he said.

Dujarric would not say which delegation showed up, but he said Lamamra and his team met with those representatives, and invited both delegations to continue discussions on Friday.

“We urge the Sudanese delegations to rise to the challenge and engage in constructive discussions with the personal envoy for the sake of the Sudanese people,” he said.

Sudan plunged into conflict in mid-April 2023 when long-simmering tensions between its military and paramilitary leaders broke out in the capital, Khartoum, and spread to other regions including Darfur. The U.N. says over 14,000 people have been killed and 33,000 injured. Rights activists say the toll could be much higher.

The war has also created the world's largest displacement crisis with over 11 million people forced to flee their homes as well as allegations of rampant sexual violence and possible crimes against humanity, and international experts recently warned that 755,000 people are facing famine in the coming months.

Talks in Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah between the Sudanese military and the Rapid Support Forces broke down at the end of last year.

After months of failed efforts to restart talks, Dujarric said the United Nations didn’t publicize the meeting because it doesn’t want to raise expectations.

“We and others have been trying to move this process forward,” he said. “We need to give it a little bit of breathing room and that’s why we’re not trumpeting all of this.”

Alessandra Vellucci, the U.N. spokeswoman in Geneva, said in an email that “The discussions seek to identify avenues for the advancement of the identified humanitarian and protection of civilian measures through possible local ceasefires, as requested by the Security Council.”

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Lederer reported from the United Nations

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