KHARTOUM - Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno has arrived in Khartoum on his first visit to Sudan since 2004, amid a strengthening of ties between the African neighbours, an AFP correspondent said.
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir greeted Deby at Khartoum's airport on Sunday at the start of a visit expected to help seal last month's accord normalising ties that had been strained by reciprocal accusations of support for rebels. A large Chadian delegation had arrived in Khartoum on Friday to prepare for the visit.
Chad has long accused Sudan of supporting rebels seeking to oust the government, while Khartoum has charged Ndjamena with backing ethnic minority rebels in the conflict-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur.
Under the normalisation deal signed in mid-January the two countries agreed to deploy a joint force on their border to ensure that Chad and Sudan stop supporting rebels.
Announcing plans to visit Khartoum last week, Deby said: "I am a man of dialogue and openness. War has never settled things. Chad wants to live in perfect harmony with all its neighbours."
Improved ties between the two is seen as a major step towards peace in Darfur where about 300000 people have died since ethnic rebels revolted in 2003, according to UN estimates.
The two countries broke off diplomatic relations for several months in 2008 after a surprise rebel attack on Ndjamena which came close to overthrowing Deby before government forces rallied to rout the insurgents.
Sudan complained last July to the UN Security Council after Chadian air raids were launched on its territory a few days after another failed rebel offensive on the capital. Chad later admitted it had bombarded rebel bases in Darfur. Deby took power in a military coup in 1990, with Sudan's backing.- Sapa-AFP