Historic visit: Chad President Idriss Deby Itno arrives in Khartoum Sudan after a recent security deal
"We have come here like a dove... we came to show our will, our availability, our commitment to see peace, tranquillity and confidence return...we came and wish to leave with peace" - Chad President Idriss Deby Itno, shortly after his arrival in Khartoum on Mon 08 Feb 2010
Photo: Chad President Idriss Deby Itno (right) was greeted at Khartoum airport today (Monday, 08 February 2010) by Sudan President Omar al-Bashir (left) before the two men held talks. The historic two-day visit of Mr Deby comes after a recent security deal. The visit is expected to help seal last month's accord normalising ties between the neighbouring states, a move essential to future peace in Darfur. The deal also provides for the deployment of 3,000 troops along the border, with each country contributing a 1,500-strong contingent. "This is a historic visit," Sudan's Foreign Minister Deng Alor told reporters at the airport. "We hope to see a lot of issues being discussed and resolved." (Source: AFP-Ashraf Shazly/BBC)
From BBC News Online at 17:25 GMT, Monday, 08 February 2010:
Chad President Deby in Sudan talks on Darfur
Chad President Idriss Deby is visiting Sudan for the first time since 2004 for talks on the troubled Darfur region.
The two countries have been fighting a proxy war for several years along their common border around Darfur.
The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says the visit was a surprise and caught Sudanese officials off-guard.
Sudan says Chad backs Darfur rebel groups, while Khartoum is accused of supporting armed militias who are active in eastern Chad.
Rebel groups have threatened the capital cities of both countries in recent years, sparking a flurry of accusations and counter-accusations.
Analysts say the rebels function as an extra line of defence for each country, but add that this poisonous mixture has considerably worsened the dramatic humanitarian problems in both areas.
Mr Deby was greeted at Khartoum airport by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir before the two men held talks.
"We have come here like a dove... we came to show our will, our availability, our commitment to see peace, tranquillity and confidence return," Mr Deby said at the start of the discussions, reports the AFP news agency.
"This is a historic visit," Sudan's Foreign Minister Deng Alor told reporters at the airport.
"We hope to see a lot of issues being discussed and resolved."
The two-day visit comes after some signs of a thaw in the relationship.
The two countries last month signed an agreement aimed at boosting security on the border.
Unlike many previous treaties which proclaimed good intentions but offered little in practice, our correspondent says this one outlined several concrete steps.
Mr Deby's visit to Khartoum could put the finishing touches to this plan, our correspondent says.
They will set up a joint border force, with each country providing some 1,500 men, AFP says.
"We are committed to implementing all the agreements signed between our two countries," said Mr Bashir.
Mistrust between Khartoum and N'Djamena is still high, but neither country will be stable until the two make a real peace, our correspondent adds. [...]
Photo: Sudan President Omar al-Bashir (left) and Chad President Idriss Deby Itno review the guard of honour in Khartoum, Sudan (Credit: AFP)
Chad leader extends olive branch to Sudan's Beshir
By Guillaume Lavallee (AFP) – Monday, 08 February 2010:
(Khartoum) - Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno paid a landmark visit on Monday to Khartoum, in a bid to consolidate a thaw in ties and boost efforts to bring peace to Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir greeted Deby at Khartoum airport at the start of a visit expected to help seal last month's accord normalising ties between the neighbouring states, a move essential to future peace in Darfur.
"We have come here like a dove... we came to show our will, our availability, our commitment to see peace, tranquillity and confidence return" between the two countries, Deby said at the start of talks.
"We came and wish to leave with peace," he said on his first trip to Sudan since July 2004 when he visited El-Geneina, the strategic capital of West Darfur which borders Chad.
Chad has long accused Sudan of supporting rebels seeking to oust its government, while Khartoum has in turn charged Ndjamena with backing ethnic minority rebels in western Darfur.
But the two states also agreed in mid-January to deploy a joint force on their border, in a move aimed at ending the presence of rebels on each other's territory and halting their activity, as part of efforts towards normalisation.
"We are committed to implementing all the agreements signed between our two countries," Beshir said.
"We want to return to better relations," he added, underlining the importance of the deployment of the joint border force which will have a "strong impact" on security along the frontier and for the people of Darfur.
Last month's deal also provides for the deployment of 3,000 troops along the border, with each country contributing a 1,500-strong contingent.
Chad and Sudan had in the past signed similar agreements, but those accords were never implemented.
In March 2008, the two states signed the Dakar agreement in the Senegalese capital, but it crumbled months later when Darfur rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement launched an unprecedented assault on the Sudanese capital.
This was followed by a surprise rebel attack on Ndjamena which came close to overthrowing Deby before government forces managed to rally and rout the insurgents.
"This time it seems serious. They both need it right now," a diplomat told AFP last month on condition of anonymity on normalisation of relations between the two states.
"Chad is heading towards legislative elections in November and presidential elections in April 2011, while elections in Sudan are scheduled for April and a referendum (on southern independence) in January 2011," the diplomat said.
But Chad rebels were more sceptical.
"I don't think Deby went to Khartoum to build democracy in Chad," said Mahamat Nouri, a leader of Chad's armed opposition told AFP.
The visit "will not do much for us. Deby will continue to treat us like mercenaries," he said.
Improved ties between Khartoum and Ndjamena are also seen as a major step towards securing peace in Darfur.
Sudanese foreign minister Deng Alor expressed the hope Deby's visit would contribute to progress in indirect talks under way in the Qatari capital, Doha, between Khartoum and Darfur rebels.
"This visit is going definitely to have a positive impact on the Doha talks," he said.
Beshir praised Deby's "positive efforts" in supporting the Doha peace process which aims to end the conflict in Darfur where the United Nations says about 300,000 people have died since ethnic rebels revolted in 2003.
Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.