DAKAR, Senegal - The presidents of Sudan and Chad yesterday signed a peace deal aimed at preventing armed groups operating along their shared borders from destabilizing the region.
The deal, signed by Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Chad's Idriss Deby, commits both nations to implement past accords that have so far failed to help end violence in the area. If successful, the deal would be a small step toward ending violence in Sudan's Darfur region.
Under the agreement, the countries will form a monitoring group made up of foreign ministers from African countries, which would meet monthly to ensure that the deal is implemented.
Earlier yesterday, Chad accused Sudan of backing a new rebel advance. According to a Chad government statement, Sudan launched "several heavily armed columns" against Chad a day earlier.
The Chadian government called the fighters "mercenaries," its term for Chadian rebels it accuses Sudan of backing, and said they crossed from Sudan and reached a border town, Moudeina. Chad said it was taking steps to respond to the attack.
Senegal has been trying to persuade Chad and Sudan to implement earlier, faltered accords in a step toward calming war-torn Darfur and other areas on their shared border.
Bashir met with Deby on the sidelines of an Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Senegal, according to Senegalese presidential spokeswoman Fatou Tandiang.
The leaders of Chad and Sudan have long traded accusations of supporting each other's rebel groups. Each regularly denies such charges.
The Darfur conflict has killed about 200,000 since 2003.
The dispute pits Sudanese government forces and militia members against Darfur rebels who say the western region has been neglected by the Sudanese government.
The conflict has spilled over into Chad and Central African Republic, worsening domestic conflicts there.