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US and Saudi Arabia suspend Jeddah talks as fighting rages in Sudan

Sudan's army announced on Thursday it was pulling out of ceasefire discussions with paramilitary Rapid Support Forces
People walk past a medical centre riddled with bullet holes at the Souk Sitta (Market Six) in south of Khartoum, on 1 June 2023 (AFP)

The US and Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced a suspension of Sudan peace talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah, citing “repeated serious violations” of the short-term ceasefire agreement by Sudan’s warring parties.

In a joint statement, Washington and Riyadh criticised the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for their violations of the ceasefire, which have blocked the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians.

"Once the parties make clear by their actions that they are serious about complying with the ceasefire, the facilitators are prepared to resume the suspended discussions to find a negotiated solution to this conflict," they added. 

The suspension is largely symbolic, given that Sudan's army announced earlier on Thursday that it was pulling out of ceasefire discussions with the paramilitary RSF

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Conflict broke out on 15 April between the RSF, headed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemeti, and Burhan's forces after disputes over plans for the paramilitary force to be integrated into the army.

Several truces have been agreed since the fighting began, but both sides have repeatedly violated ceasefire agreements. 

US announces first round of sanctions in Sudan
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On 22 May, the warring forces agreed to a seven-day humanitarian truce as part of the Saudi and US-sponsored talks in Jeddah.

Washington and Riyadh hoped to extend the truce by five days this week, but those efforts collapsed with heavy fighting reported across Sudan. 

On Wednesday, the army blasted RSF bases in the capital after pulling out of the truce talks in Jeddah, accusing its rival of violating the ceasefire. On Thursday, witnesses reported "heavy artillery fire" in north Khartoum, according to AFP.

"Eighteen civilians were killed and 106 wounded" by army shelling and air strikes on a market in south Khartoum, a committee of human rights lawyers told AFP on Thursday. 

The toll was confirmed by a neighbourhood group that organises aid, which said the situation was "catastrophic" and appealed for medical help and blood donations.

Also on Thursday, the White House released its first round of sanctions on Sudan

Four companies were sanctioned by the US; two connected to the army and two linked to the RSF. 

In a statement, the White House said that it was responding to the ongoing violence in Sudan by "levying economic sanctions, imposing visa restrictions against actors who are perpetuating the violence, and releasing an updated 'business advisory' on Sudan."

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