"Former enemies from north and south Sudan failed on Thursday to reach an agreement on a key referendum law at the break of the latest round of talks with US special envoy Scott Gration.
'I'm very disappointed that while we had excellent discussions, and I think we framed out the issues on both sides, we were not able to reach an agreement on the referendum law,' Gration told reporters at a joint press conference at the end of the two-day talks.
It was hoped that the talks, aimed at bolstering the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's 22-year civil war, would break a deadlock over framework details for a referendum due in 2011 on the south's possible full independence.
'We will continue to discuss these issues on the margin of the UN General Assembly, and other times where it is appropriate.'
The talks in the southern capital of Juba follow a deal signed last month by the north's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the south's dominant party, the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).
It covered 10 key areas on which the two sides will work together, including upcoming elections next April, peace efforts in the war-torn region of Darfur, demarcating the north-south border, and power-sharing.
However, two other issues remain: the referendum, and census results rejected by the south but which are seen as key to the upcoming elections.
The two parties said these issues needed more discussion--they had not even begun negotiations in this round on the census."
MORE: "Sudanese ex-foes fail to reach deal in talks" (AFP)