Crippled by the absence of key rebel leaders, a highly anticipated Darfur peace conference was effectively postponed Sunday to give rebel delegates time to prepare before direct negotiations with the Sudanese government.
The U.N. and African Union peace mediators described a multiphase process of talks involving an initial “consultation” period ahead of “substantial negotiations” set to open in a few weeks.
The peace conference, which opened Saturday, had widely been expected to see direct negotiations between rebels and government forces to resolve over four years of fighting that has claimed more than 200,000 lives in the western Sudanese region.
But none of Darfur’s rebel main leadership was in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte for the start of the talks, dashing hopes that an agreement could rapidly be reached.
U.N. sees no proof Iran building nukes
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Sunday he had no evidence Iran was working actively to build nuclear weapons and expressed concern that escalating rhetoric from the U.S. could bring disaster.
“We have information that there has been maybe some studies about possible weaponization,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran this month of “lying” about the aim of its nuclear program. She said there is no doubt Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived the IAEA about its intentions.
ElBaradei said he was worried about the growing rhetoric from the U.S., which he noted focused on Iran’s alleged intentions to build a nuclear weapon rather than evidence the country was actively doing so.
Demonstrators end monthlong march
Tens of thousands of impoverished Indians arrived in the national capital on Sunday, ending a monthlong march to draw attention to the plight of those dispossessed of their land by recent economic development.
An estimated 27,000 protesters waved flags and chanted “Give us land, give us water,” as they marched in long, orderly lines to central New Delhi where they plan to hold a protest today.
The demonstrators, who marched some 185 miles from the central city of Gwalior, say they have not only been left behind in the wake of India’s recent economic boom but have suffered directly from the growth, with many forced from their land to make way for government-backed projects.