Representatives from the warring Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary were in the Saudi port city of Jeddah on Saturday, with the two expected to start direct talks on securing an actual cease-fire.
The US and Saudi Arabian governments confirmed the presence of the representatives and said that the two sides would take part in "pre-negotiation talks" — the first direct discussions since fighting broke out on April 15.
It was not immediately clear if the two sides actually began direct discussions on Saturday.
The development comes as violence continued in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum and other parts of the country.
Sudan's two warring generals sent their envoys to Saudi Arabia in light of several failed attempts to enact temporary cease-fires.
The internal power struggle between Sudan's de-facto leader Abdel-Fattah Burhan, who leads the regular army, and his deputy-turned-rival Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the paramilitary RSF, has left hundreds dead in three weeks.
RSF leader Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, said he welcomed the Jeddah talks, hoping they would "achieve their intended goals."
"We are committed to democracy and the transition to a civilian-led government," Hemedti said on Twitter.
He added that his paramilitary force believes in "the need for a transitional civilian government that fosters a sustainable democratic transition and fulfills the aspirations of our people for security, stability, and development."
Both sides, however, have made it clear that the talks in Jeddah would only concern a humanitarian truce, and not involve discussions about an end to the conflict.
Meanwhile, explosions were reportedly heard from Khartoum's city center. Some local media also said shots were fired in the neighboring city Omdurman.
Here are other key headlines about the crisis in Sudan for Saturday, May 6:
Turkey to move embassy after reported gunfire
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey's embassy will be moved from Khartoum to Port Sudan.
Earlier on Saturday, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources, that a convoy that included Turkish Ambassador Ismail Cobanoglu came under fire by unknown assailants in the Sudanese capital.
No casualties were reported after the incident.
"With recommendation from the transitional government and Sudan army, we decided to move our embassy temporarily to Port Sudan for security reasons," Cavusoglu told reporters.
East African leaders concerned about cease-fire violations
The leaders of East African nations have voiced their concern over the violations of a cease-fire in Sudan, urging the warring generals to talk.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, the region's lead mediator, spoke with Burhan and Dagalo on Friday regarding his and the other leaders' concerns.
"President Salva stressed the need for the parties to observe the ceasefire and send their representatives to an agreed venue to commence talks," the South Sudanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
A 7-day cease-fire was announced by South Sudan earlier this week. Yet, violations have continued, as was the case with all previous cease-fires.
Aid supplies arrive in Sudan
A shipment of emergency medical supplies for some 165,000 arrived in Port Sudan from Dubai, the World Health Organization said on Saturday, being among the first to arrive in the country that has been torn by fighting for over three weeks.
The shipment is some 30 tons and includes trauma and emergency surgical equipment. It's due to be distributed on 13 health facilities, the WHO said, though distribution will depend on "security and access clearances."
Qatar also flew a relief flight carrying some 40 tons of food. The Qatari plane touched down in Port Sudan, before returning early Saturday with 150 evacuees.
Hundreds dead, thousands have left homes
Data by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project shows some 700 people have died — largely in Khartoum and the western Darfur region — since the conflict began on April 15.
Some 450,000 civilians have already fled their homes since the fighting began, the International Organization for Migration said, including more than 115,000 who have sought refuge in neighboring countries.
Britain, the United Arab Emirates, the League of Arab States and the African Union are a few of the countries and international organizations that have supported talks in Jeddah, according to the US-Saudi statement.
Sudan's pro-democracy Forces of Freedom and Change political coalition welcomed the start of political talks in Saudi Arabia.
rmt, mk/wd (Reuters, AFP, AP)