Egypt's Foreign Minister Amr Mussa said here Wednesday he was optimistic about the Egyptian-Libyan initiative for ending the 17-year-old civil conflict in Sudan.
"A settlement cannot be reached overnight but I can say the initiative is progressing forward satisfactorily," Mussa told a joint press conference with Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail after a brief meeting.
He said a joint Egyptian-Libyan committee would soon present a new package of proposals, worked out as a result of contacts with the Sudanese government and opposition.
"The goal of the joint initiative is to stop the bloodbath," he said.
Mussa stressed the importance of including Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang and other south Sudanese leaders in the reconciliation process.
Sudan's civil war pits the northern Arab Islamic Khartoum government against the mainly Christian and animist rebels of the south led by the SPLA although the opposition includes many more armed and political groups from both the north and south.
"We are not dealing with the northern (political opposition) parties only, and the southerners should be involved in the reconciliation," Mussa said in response to a remark that Garang is not enthusiastic about the Egyptian-Libyan initiative and prefers one sponsored by the east African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Mussa said they are working for coordination of the two initiatives.
"There is no conflict between the two initiative as both of them serve the Sudanese interests," he remarked.
Ismail said at the press conference that he, Mussa and their Libyan counterpart would meet in Khartoum next month to discuss the Egyptian-Libyan effort to bring the Sudanese government and opposition together.
Mussa was making a brief stopover in Khartoum on his way from Cairo to Lusaka, Zambia, for a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) -- KHARTOUM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )