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US: Sudan warring sides sign commitment to humanitarian rules

Sudan’s warring parties signed a commitment on guidelines for allowing humanitarian assistance, with talks still ongoing on reaching a ceasefire, US officials said.

Representatives of the army and paramilitary forces, who have been fighting for nearly a month, signed the agreement late Thursday in the Saudi city of Jeddah on a “declaration of commitment to protect the civilians of Sudan,” said a US official involved in the talks.

The agreement commits both sides in general terms to let in humanitarian assistance, to allow the restoration of electricity, water and other basic services, to withdraw security forces from hospitals and to arrange for “respectful burial” of the dead.

Negotiations are still underway on reaching a new temporary truce to let in aid, with a proposal on the table to halt fighting for 10 days, the US official said, on condition of anonymity.

“This is not a ceasefire. This is an affirmation of their obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly with regard to the treatment of civilians and the need to create space for humanitarians to operate,” the official said.

“We are hopeful, cautiously, that their willingness to sign this document will create some momentum that will force them to create the space” to bring in relief supplies, she said.

But she said the two sides remained “quite far apart” in the discussions.

She voiced hope that the humanitarian commitment would also reassure aid providers.

The UN’s World Food Program said millions of dollars worth of food was looted in Khartoum.

Envoys from the warring generals — army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo — have been meeting since Saturday in Jeddah for “pre-negotiation talks” with participation of the United States and the United Nations.

The top UN aid official, Martin Griffiths, had outlined proposals in Jeddah in which the two sides would guarantee safe passage for humanitarian relief.

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