Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on 29 June expressed confidence that peace was at hand, ahead of the opening of the latest, and in theory final, session of peace talks which begins on 6 July. Speaking at a rally to mark the 14th anniversary of the coup which brought him to power, Al-Bashir said that there currently existed the best ever chance for peace, with strong international backing, especially from the US, for the process as well as the commitment of the warring parties themselves. ‘We are approaching this round of talks with the most serious commitment we have ever announced towards peace and the strongest will and desire to overcome the final hurdles towards peace,’ he said. A comprehensive draft agreement is close to completion between Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army, but formidable obstacles remain. The last round of talks in May ended with little progress, the key sticking point being transitional arrangements in the six years before the south is accorded a referendum on secession. The two sides could not agree on the integration of their armies. Other thorny outstanding issues include the application of Islamic law in Khartoum and the sharing of oil revenues. The talks will take place in Kenya.