The leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), John Garang, on 3 December said that a delegation of senior SPLA members would travel to Khartoum on 8 December to continue peace talks with the government. Garang told AP that a 'high-level delegation' would visit Khartoum, and that the delegation would include a member of the leadership council of the SPLA. 'It is a goodwill delegation to consolidate the peace process, and make it irreversible and to ensure inclusiveness,' Garang told AFP. Garang said the visit to Khartoum was separate from peace negotiations set to resume in Kenya on 5 December. The delegation will 'engage in dialogue with all political powers... as well as civil society groups to ensure participation of all powers in the process,' Garang said. Khartoum has yet to comment on the upcoming visit. Prior to the security deal, signed on 24 September as part of ongoing talks over power sharing arrangements for the south of the country, SPLA officials would have been arrested and imprisoned for travelling to Khartoum.
The security agreement stipulates that within two years of the signing of a lasting peace agreement, 80 per cent of government forces stationed in southern Sudan would be redeployed to the north. This will leave about 10,000 government troops in the south. The SPLA will be allowed to keep 80 per cent of its troops in the area in the six years after self-rule is introduced (MEED 25:9:03).