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Eritrean Rebels Reportedly Agree To Negotiate With Ethiopia

January 1, 1989

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ An Eritrean rebel group that has waged Africa’s longest civil war has agreed to negotiate with the Ethiopian government for an end to the 26-year- old rebellion, a Sudanese newspaper reported Sunday.

Omar Reyh, chairman of the Eritrean Liberation Front-Unified Organization, said Sudan proposed the talks after a recent visit to Khartoum by an Ethiopian delegation, the Al-Siyassa newspaper reported.

The newspaper quoted Reyh as saying he met Saturday with Sudanese Prime Minister Sadek Mahdi, who suggested Sudan as the site for the negotiations.

″Sudan proposed that there be a preparatory meeting between the Eritrean and Ethiopian sides to prepare for an official negotiating delegation,″ the rebel leader was quoted as saying. ″We have accepted this proposal.″

There was no immediate word from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, about the Marxist government’s position on the proposal.

The governments of Sudan and Ethiopia often have exchanged charges of harboring each other’s rebels, but relations have improved recently.

Three factions of the Eritrean Liberation Front - which have been fighting 26 years for independence of their northern Ethiopian region - joined forces on Jan. 23, 1985, as the Eritrean Liberation Front-Unified Organization.

The Eritrean revolt, exacerbated by famine, has forced about 850,000 Ethiopians across the border into Sudan in search of safety.

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