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South Sudanese 'near cease-fire'

Leaders for warring sides in South Sudan's month-long internal conflict have said they are close to signing a cease-fire.

Meanwhile, a military spokesman said army forces retook the key city of Bor today, defeating 15,000 rebels.

In Ethiopia, where talks are taking place, rebel negotiator Mabior de Garang said he hoped the agreement would be signed tonight.

Rebel negotiators have indicated a major concession in that the deal would not include previous demands tying any cessation of hostilities to the immediate release of 11 key political detainees.

That sticking point and other issues would be discussed after a cease-fire is signed and hostilities end, they indicated.

In Juba, the capital of South Sudan, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said he believed a cease fire would be signed either tomorrow or Monday. He confirmed that the release of detainees is not part of the agreement.

Fighting broke out on December 15 last year and spread throughout the country after whole army units defected. Thousands are believed to have died.

AP

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