Sudan To Stop Air Raids against Civilians
President Omar al-Beshir has ordered his armed forces to "stop all air raids" against civilians in southern Sudan, state radio reported Wednesday.
Beshir ordered his forces to carry out aerial bombardments only in cases of self-defence and in "active military operations areas," Omdurman Radio reported.
The order came after the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) claimed Tuesday that Khartoum had launched a dry season offensive on April 1 and that MiG bombers had targeted an international relief center on Sunday.
In the last few months Beshir has tried to improve ties with the west and pledged to step up efforts to end the 17-year civil war in southern Sudan.
Beshir's order was taken to "protect the lives and property of the civilian population" in the south, the radio said.
Beshir also appealed to the international community to pressure the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) to protect the lives of civilians in south Sudan, it added.
On Tuesday the UN human rights commission singled out the bombing of civilian targets in a resolution Tuesday condemning violations in Sudan, especially against women and children in the war-torn country.
The resolution, presented by Portugal on the European Union's behalf, also denounced the abduction of women and children as forced laborers, the use of child soldiers, and arbitrary executions.
The UN commission reprimanded the Sudanese government for its crackdown on religious freedom and the right to assemble, and the torture and jailing of human rights activists, journalists and opposition politicians.
Access to civilians throughout the country must be guaranteed, and attacks against UN personnel and humanitarian aid workers must be stopped, the resolution stated.
SUDAN GESTURES TO HOLD DIALOGUE WITH US
Sudan has expressed readiness to hold a dialogue with the United States to tackle strains in bilateral ties.
Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail was quoted by Kuwaiti news agency (KUNA) as saying Tuesday he had received a message from the US administration outlining proposals on ways to tackle differences between the two sides.
He refused to divulge details of the message but indicated its dispatch constituted a step in the right direction to improve the ties.
Ismail said he had responded to the message and asserted Khartoum's keenness on holding a dialogue with Washington to restore normal ties. The Sudanese-us ties were strained over the past years, but they became severely poisoned in august 1998, when us forces fired rockets on a Sudanese medicines factory at the pretext that it was manufacturing banned chemical arms. The plant was directly hit and demolished.
In an interview published Wednesday in the London-based Arabic language daily Azzaman Beshir said his regime was ready to renew its ties with the United States __ (Several Sources)
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