New cardinal, the Archbishop of Khartoum, Gabriel Zubeir Wako, used his first public appearance following his appointment yesterday, to express hope that the latest proposals to end two decades of civil war in his country of Sudan will succeed. US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is currently in Kenya where peace talks between the two sides are taking place, said that Sudan's government and rebels have given a commitment to reach an agreement on ending their civil war by the end of December. He said: "I can see the end is in sight, based on what I have heard today I believe that a final agreement is within the grasp of the parties." The cardinal said he hoped the peace talks would be successful. He said: "That's our hope but we have been disillusioned so many times now. It's as if we are a few steps from peace and then they turn back and go away very far away. I hope that this time they do something serious." Sixty two year old Gabriel Zubeir Wako is Sudan's first-ever cardinal. He is also the most exposed church leader to the growing challenge Catholicism faces from Islam. As archbishop of Khartoum, he has been arrested as part of the government's drive to impose Islamic law in the country. Around two million people have perished in the conflict, mainly because of war-induced famine. The war has been marked by allegations of mass human rights violations, mostly aimed at the government which has been accused of supporting slavery and bombing aid groups and civilians. The conflict is often simplified as a religious, racial struggle, and the rebels have attracted strong support from US Christian and African American groups.
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