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More briefs, March 22

Sudan rivals step back from brink

washington / reuters Sudan and South Sudan have stepped back from the brink of all-out confrontation and the world community should seize on this to win humanitarian access to food-starved regions and press for broader reconciliation, senior U.S. officials said March 14.

Princeton Lyman, the top Obama administration official for Sudan, said an announcement that Sudan President Omar al-Bashir would visit South Sudan in coming weeks could signal a new phase between two uneasy neighbours seen at risk of reigniting one of Africa’s bloodiest wars.

“The two countries decided to step back from the brink. They looked at each other and said we are going in the wrong direction,” Lyman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We have seen these recommitments before. So while we take a great deal of hope from them, a lot will depend on what happens over the next several weeks.”

U.S. officials and aid experts have warned that as many as 250,000 people in the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile border states could be on the brink of famine by the end of April and have demanded Khartoum stop blocking humanitarian access and allow aid groups in.

Illinois cropland goes for $14,100 per acre

LandOwner newsletter reports that 159.8 acres of cropland in McLean County in central Illinois sold for a record $14,100 per acre at an auction Feb. 21.

The farm also had two grain bins with a dryer, a machine shed and crib.

More than 120 people attended the auction with 53 registered bidders and several active bidders above $12,000 an acre.

The farm was purchased by an investor.

“We have seen other auctions that have two bidders take a certain tract above that level, but this was a unique farm with desirable characteristics in a tightly held area of western McLean County. In March 2006 we sold the farm across the road for a record price at that time as well — $6,000 per acre,” said David Klein of the auction company handling the sale.

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