The government of Sudan and the main Darfur rebel faction signed an agreement on Friday to end three years of fighting in Sudan's vast west.
The signing came after a week of intense negotiations and international pressure to conclude two years of African Union mediated talks on the Darfur conflict, which has produced one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
UPDATE 05/05 @ 3:26pm: This reaction from White House Spokesman Scott McClellan:
Q Could you characterize it? Is it -- has an agreement been reached? And is it an agreement if it's just one rebel group and the government?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, this could be an important moment for the people of Darfur. The president has made this a priority. He's concerned about the some 2 million people that have been displaced. There are people dying every day. There are people suffering, and we've provided an enormous amount of humanitarian aid to the people of Darfur.
But we do now have before us an opportunity to move forward on peace. The largest rebel group has come into an agreement with the government of Sudan. This is a result of an intensive international effort. We appreciate the efforts of the African Union. Deputy Secretary Zoellick has been in the region helping with this. My understanding is that now the second-largest rebel group is reconsidering their position on this. So those discussions are ongoing within that group.
This is -- this would be a step, but it would be a very important step. There is more that we will need to do. We need to continue to move forward on blue-hatting the African Union force, transforming that into a U.N. force with NATO logistical support.
Q But at this point, this step cannot -- a peace agreement.
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, there's an agreement with the largest rebel. The second-largest rebel group is still considering it at this point, is my understanding. And we think that there's an opportunity there to move forward on peace, and that would be a very welcomed step.