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24nd Safarul Muzaffer 1436 | Friday, Dec 19, 2014
Islamic World

Sudan, South Sudan meet to push security, oil deals

Saturday, 5 January 2013
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Addis Ababa, January 05:

The rival presidents of Sudan and South Sudan met for face-to-face talks to push forward stalled security, oil and border deals, and to discuss the fate of the contested Abyei region.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his Southern counterpart Salva Kiir met alongside African Union mediator
Thabo Mbeki, today while tensions remain high after the latest in a string of accusations that Khartoum had bombed South Sudan.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is hosting the talks, also attended the first meeting between the former civil war foes for over three months, when they signed a raft of key deals that have yet to be implemented.

Ahead of the meeting -- taking place in Ethiopia's presidential palace -- Bashir, Kiir, Hailemariam and Mbeki
were seen sitting together talking and laughing.

The talks are expected to carry into the afternoon, although while the leaders are set to leave later today,
diplomats say talks could continue till tomorrow if an agreement is not reached.

Delegations from Juba and Khartoum were also present, including defence ministers from both countries.

Bashir and Kiir arrived in Ethiopia yesterday, one day after South Sudan accused Khartoum of waging fresh attacks along their disputed border, but they first met separately only with mediators.

Juba's chief negotiator Pagan Amum called the alleged ground attacks and aerial bombardment on Wednesday in South
Sudan's border regions "unfortunate", and said the mood at the talks had been hampered.

Juba has accused Khartoum of a series of attacks -- regularly dismissed by Sudan -- ever since the two nations
came close to all-out war in March and April last year, when their armies fought bitter battles over their disputed
frontier.

the summit of the leaders, whose nations are both struggling with economic austerity cuts following Juba's
halting of oil exports through Sudan's pipelines, is the latest of repeated rounds of AU-mediated talks.

Along with a demilitarised border buffer zone, the September pacts allowed for a resumption of South Sudanese oil
exports through Sudan. They also said border points would be reopened for general trade.

The United States, Britain and Norway issued a joint statement ahead of the talks calling for a settlement, urging
the armies of both nations to "immediately withdraw" from their frontier.

The resumption of oil production would be "particularly valuable for both economies and should not be held up by
negotiation on other issues", they added.

-------------------------------------(AFP)

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