Senior US State Department officials revealed that the move to contain the Sudan crisis began with Saudi-American cooperation before arriving in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to sponsor talks between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces.
The officials said, during a press briefing to talk about the scenes of the negotiations, that the declaration of commitment to protect civilians in Sudan, which was signed in Jeddah between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, represents “a first step in what we hope to achieve here on the land of Jeddah in the presence of the two parties to the Sudanese conflict,” according to a statement. for the US State Department.
They added that the next step would be “focusing on negotiating defining security measures to which the two parties are committed to creating a safe environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid, restoring humanitarian services and burying the dead in a way that preserves their dignity.”
The officials noted that the talks began with the leaders of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, noting that they faced “extreme difficulties”, as communication with the Sudanese leaders faltered due to “problems in the communications network in Sudan.”
They pointed out that some of these conversations “took place in writing,” while others took place “over the phone, which was suffering from faults on the lines at a rate of approximately every 7 minutes.”
After that, each of the two sides in the Sudanese war appointed a representative “to hold talks with us and with the Saudi ambassador to Sudan, Ali bin Jaafar,” according to the officials.
And the US officials explained that the work continued in this way “on a daily basis,” until “we arrived in Jeddah to transfer the conversations, which took place over the phone to a face-to-face conversation,” after Saudi Arabia offered to host these talks.
The officials praised the “close cooperation of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” which helped transport representatives of the Sudanese army, the “rapid support forces,” and the Saudi ambassador through the simmering conflict areas in Khartoum to the Wadi Sedna military airport, which is controlled by the Sudanese army. And from there to Jeddah. Once they arrived on the evening of Friday 5 May, “talks began the next day”.
And US officials stressed the “critical” Saudi role in bringing the parties to the dialogue to Jeddah, explaining that the coastal city also witnessed “tremendous efforts” by Saudi and American mediators to communicate with a number of civilian leaders to participate in the discussion of “the goals of the pre-Jeddah talks, and the dynamics.” Political parties, and the measures to be taken regarding expanding the base of the dialogue parties to include Sudanese civilians and regional and international representatives.
‘coalition of civilians’
The talks touched on steps that Sudanese civilians can take “now” to prepare to participate effectively in the discussions when they reach this expanded format.-
US officials pointed out the need to form “an expanded coalition of Sudanese civilians, to be more representative of Sudanese civil society,” by including women’s voices and non-political representatives of civil society members and others.-
US officials said that contact with civilians also came as a result of a request by representatives of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces to “limit the Jeddah talks to technical military issues related to a short-term ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid,” while the Saudis and Americans worked to “advance the wheel of talks,” not Not only to include elements of civilians and regional and international representatives, but also to address “a broader base of outstanding issues.”
The officials stated that the Saudi-American discussion with representatives of civil society and representatives of the resistance committees included “the possibility of coordinating the courageous local efforts” that they undertook to provide humanitarian aid and basic services on the ground during the conflict in Khartoum and elsewhere, with “efforts to deliver international aid and restore basic services, such as Providing water, restoring communications, distributing fuel, and burying the dead in order to preserve their dignity.”
U.S. officials also praised the “full transparency” that Saudi and American mediators demonstrated with the parties to the talks in Jeddah about civilians joining the talks along with regional and international representatives as the talks progressed to “a permanent cessation of hostilities and the formation of a civilian government.”
The officials stated that the Jeddah talks adopted a “gradual approach” in order to reach them with “the results that we aspired to.” through a stepwise approach.
The US officials noted that the first three paragraphs of the preamble to the Declaration of Protection were “written by both parties to the conflict representing the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces,” and that these principles “will govern the next steps,” which will be a “short-term ceasefire.”
The officials said that as a result of the mistrust prevailing on both sides, reaching a declaration of commitment to protecting civilians and a short-term ceasefire took “more time and effort than expected.”
And he considered that this time was “useful from a negotiating point of view” to talk about a number of issues related to the next step “to be taken in Jeddah” as well, and related to agreeing on “specific measures to facilitate a short-term ceasefire.”
“We have already begun some of these talks, and we look very much forward to moving into the negotiation phase, so that we can implement the short ceasefire and deliver much-needed aid to the Sudanese,” they concluded.