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US envoy heads to Sudan as tensions flare

20 april 2012, 13:06
Newly appointed U.S. special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman. ©REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
Newly appointed U.S. special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman. ©REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
A US envoy headed Tuesday to Sudan after talks in newly independent South Sudan as he pressed for calm despite signs of a hardening of positions following an outbreak of fighting, AFP reports.

Princeton Lyman, the special envoy on Sudan and South Sudan, was headed to Khartoum late Tuesday or Wednesday after a meeting in the South's capital Juba with President Salva Kiir, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

In Khartoum, Lyman will "essentially stress the same message, which is that we need an immediate and unconditional cessation of violence, and we need both sides to get back to the AU process," Toner said, referring to deadlocked talks mediated by the African Union.

Fighting has intensified, with Sudan accused of bombing a camp of UN peacekeepers, after fighters from the South seized the disputed Heglig oil field which is key to Sudan's ailing economy.

The United States has urged South Sudan to withdraw. But despite its heavy reliance on US aid, South Sudan has remained defiant with its army vowing Tuesday to hold its positions.

The violence has raised fears of a return to all-out war. More than two million people died in Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war, one of the longest in Africa.

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