Representatives from Sudan’s warring armies have arrived in Saudi Arabia for their first face-to-face negotiations.
The “pre-negotiation talks” between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were due to start on Saturday in Jeddah. They are sponsored by the US and Saudi Arabia.
Several ceasefires have broken down since the fighting began weeks ago.
Both sides have said they will discuss a humanitarian truce but not an end to the conflict.
There has been no word so far about whether the meeting has taken place or who the representatives from both sides are.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan welcomed the representatives from both parties. He said he hoped the talks would “lead to the end of the conflict and the return of security and stability to the Republic of Sudan”.
Gen Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who leads the RSF, said on Twitter that the group appreciated all efforts to establish a ceasefire and provide the Sudanese people with aid. He also insisted the RSF was committed to “the transition to a civilian-led government”.
Gen Daglo, better known as Hemedti, is engaged in a bitter power struggle with Sudan’s army commander, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan – the country’s de facto president.
Saturday’s talks come amid reports of continuing clashes in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
Hundreds of people have been killed and nearly 450,000 civilians displaced since the fighting began. Of that total, the International Organization for Migration says, more than 115,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
A joint US-Saudi statement urged “both parties to take in consideration the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people and actively engage in the talks towards a ceasefire and end to the conflict”.
A spokesman for UN children’s agency, James Elder, said the conflict’s first 11 days alone had killed an estimated 190 children and wounded 1,700 – and those figures were just from health facilities in Khartoum and Darfur.
“The reality is likely to be much worse,” he said.
The intensity of the fighting has prevented much-needed aid deliveries getting through.
So far Gen Burhan and Hemedti, who led an Arab militia in the brutal Darfur conflict, have shown little readiness to reach a peace settlement.