The Sudanese government and a Darfur rebel group have signed a peace accord rejected by the region's main rebel groups.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, attended a signing ceremony in Doha, Qatar on Thursday.
The government entered the pact with the Justice and Liberation Movement , an alliance made up with splinter rebel groups.
A spokesman for Darfur's biggest rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement , said the accord does not resolve Darfur's main problems. JEM spokesman Gibreel Adam Bilal said those problems include human rights violations, the distribution of power and wealth and the compensation and return of displaced persons.
The United States said the agreement is a positive step forward on the road toward a lasting solution to the crisis. A State Department spokesman said the U.S. will continue to press Darfur rebels who refuse to participate in negotiations to fully engage in the peace process.
The spokesman also urged Sudan's government to be open to more international negotiations so that a comprehensive peace deal can be reached with all Darfur rebel groups.
United Nations-sponsored peace talks in Qatar between Darfur rebels and the Sudanese government have yielded little progress.
Rebels in Darfur took up arms against the government in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting their region.
The United Nations says more than 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict, and 2.7 million others have been displaced. Sudan's government puts the death toll at 10,000.
The ICC has indicted Mr. Bashir on charges of genocide and war crimes in Darfur. The Sudanese leader has denied the charges and rejected the court's authority.