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Sudan to withdraw its troops from Abyei

Sudan says it will withdraw its troops from the disputed border region of Abyei, increasing chances of peace with South Sudan.

Abyei sudan bashir defiant 2011 05 25Enlarge
After the occupation. In Abyei armed militia roam the streets outside the fortified UN compound where four helicopters were shot at by unidentified gunmen. (Stuart Price/UNMIS/Courtesy)

Sudan says it will withdraw its troops from the disputed border region of Abyei. Reporters learned of the news from former US president Jimmy Carter, who met with Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir on Sunday. "He has notified the negotiators he's ready to withdraw troops from Abyei, which we believe is a major step forward," Carter told reporters, according to the Associated Foreign Press.

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An army spokesman confirmed the announcement with BBC News. South Sudan, which became independent in 2011 after a civil war, and Sudan have both tried to claim Abyei. Sudan's forces seized Abyei in May of last year, displacing thousands of citizens. In April, clashes between Sudan and South Sudan brought the regions "close to all-out war," the BBC reported.

Peace talks between the two states are scheduled to begin on Tuesday. Now that Sudan's troops are planning to leave Abyei, a major obstacle to the peace talks has been removed, although diplomats say that there will not be a quick fix, according to Reuters

Sudan has been accused of bombing South Sudan territory but routinely denies the charges. However, Reuters says that its journalists have witnessed several bombing raids in South Sudan since it became independent from Sudan.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120528/sudan-withdraw-its-troops-abyei