Sudan’s warring sides were beginning talks Saturday that aim to firm up a shaky cease-fire after three weeks of fierce fighting that has killed hundreds and pushed the African country to the brink of collapse, the United States and Saudi Arabia said.
The negotiations, the first between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, since the fighting broke out on April 15, were taking place in Saudi Arabia’s coastal city of Jeddah, on the Red Sea, according to a joint Saudi-American statement.
The talks are part of a diplomatic initiative proposed by the kingdom and the U.S. that aims to stop the fighting, which has turned Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas into battlefields and pushed hundreds of thousands from their homes.
In their joint statement, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. urged both parties to “actively engage in the talks towards a cease-fire and end to the conflict, which will spare the Sudanese people’s suffering.”
The statement did not offer a timeframe for the talks, which come after concerted efforts by Riyadh and other international powers to pressure the warring sides in Sudan to the negotiating table.
Since a 2021 coup that upended Sudan’s transition to democracy, Saudi Arabia has been active in mediating between the ruling generals and a pro-democracy movement. And after Sudan’s top two generals — commanders of the military and the paramilitary — turned on each other in April and the latest fighting broke out, Jeddah became a hub for those evacuated by sea from Sudan’s main sea port of Port Sudan.