Southern Sudanese officials have offered to mediate between the Ugandan government and rebels who have been fighting for 19 years, a Sudanese official said Thursday.
"We are in the process of bringing the two together," Riek Machar, vice president of the autonomous southern Sudan government, said in a telephone interview from the southern capital, Juba.
"We have offered to act as facilitators and if they see that we could be mediators in their talks then we will do it," Machar said, adding both sides seemed open to the overture and that peace talks could start "any time."
Ugandan officials, however, said they doubted the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, a force with no clear political agenda, was ready for peace talks.
"I don't think any previous overtures to the LRA have yielded positive results ... I don't think they are interested in dialogue," Uganda's presidential spokesman Onapito Ekomoloit said in a telephone interview.
Full report Associated Press (ST) 20 Apr 2006.