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Sudan anti-coup group sits with generals for the first time

Sudan anti-coup group sits with generals for the first time
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Sudan's leading pro-democracy group has met with the country's generals for the first time since last year's military coup, the U.S. Embassy said Friday (June 10).

This could signify a breakthrough in attempts to bring the East African nation back on track toward a democratic transition.

The meeting held late Thursday in the capital, Khartoum, brought the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change an alliance of political parties and protest groups together with representatives of the country's ruling military council.

The talks focused on resolving the current political impasse and were mediated by the Saudi Embassy and the U.S. delegation in Sudan, the embassy said in a statement.

"We thank the participants for their frank & constructive participation and for their willingness to end the political crisis & to build a peaceful, just and democratic Sudan," it said.

Since the military took over in October, the same pro-democracy group has refused to sit with the generals at the negotiating table, insisting they should first transfer power to a civilian government, return to the barracks, end violence against protesters and release all detainees.

The pro-democratic alliance said that it had received an invitation from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Mary Catherine Phee and Saudi Ambassador Ali bin Hassan Jaafar to meet directly with the generals, according to an FDFC statement.

"We are keen to have two of the most influential countries in the region and the world remain supportive of the Sudanese people and the pro-democracy forces," said a statement by the alliance, referring to Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

The meeting, held in Khartoum was attended by four of the alliance's leaders and three top military generals, including the deputy head of Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, as well as Lt. Gen. Shams el-Din Kabashin and Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Gaber.

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