Friday, May 25, 2012

Sudan, South to Resume Talks May 29

Sudan, South to resume talks Tuesday

Posted: 25 May 2012 0145 hrs

KHARTOUM, Sudan: Sudan and South Sudan will resume on Tuesday talks that were suspended after border fighting in April, the foreign ministry said.

Sudan's lead negotiator has received a letter from African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki "saying the top negotiators from the two parties will meet in Addis Ababa on May 29," ministry spokesman Al-Obeid Meruh said on Thursday.

Mbeki's letter said the talks are to discuss implementation of a May 2 UN Security Council resolution and an African Union resolution that underlies it.

The UN demanded that Sudan and South Sudan cease weeks of hostilities that it said posed a serious threat to regional peace and security.

"The two parties already started to implement the resolution and the roadmap. The meeting will discuss the progress of implementation," Meruh told AFP.

Mbeki had announced in Khartoum on Tuesday, without giving a date, that the talks would resume next week.

The former South African president had shuttled between Khartoum and Juba since last week in an effort to push both sides back to talks.

Sudan and South Sudan did not comply with the Security Council's demand that they resume by May 16 their dialogue on "critical" issues, which were left unresolved after the South's separation in July last year following a 1983-2005 civil war.

These include oil payments, the status of each country's citizens resident in the other, the status of the contested Abyei region and resolution of disputed and "claimed" border areas as well as demarcation of the frontier.

The South said it was ready to talk and accused Khartoum of stalling.

Following months of AU-led meetings in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Sudan withdrew from the process after South Sudanese troops seized the north's main oil region of Heglig on April 10.

A subsequent 10-day occupation coincided with Sudanese air raids on South Sudanese territory, leading to fears of wider war.

South Sudan alleged on Tuesday that Khartoum's warplanes had bombed a border region this week.

The air strikes could not be independently confirmed, but if verified would be a violation of the ceasefire along the tense and unmarked border.

Sudan's army repeatedly denied earlier Southern claims of air strikes.

South Sudan has said it is ready to comply with all articles in the UN resolution, while Khartoum committed itself to stopping hostilities but said there may be "some difficulties" in fully implementing the UN demands.

The Security Council last week made a new demand that Sudan "immediately" withdraw all troops from Abyei, which it occupied one year ago.

Sudan has said it will pull out only after a joint administration for the territory has been set up. South Sudan, which withdrew its forces from Abyei according to the UN's call, says Khartoum is blocking the creation of that administration.

The UN's resolution also said both sides must establish a "Safe Demilitarised Border Zone" and jointly begin monitoring the frontier.

Although South Sudan said it pulled back its forces according to the UN's call, Khartoum's foreign ministry said the border must be agreed to before a pullback can occur.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of backing a major insurgency in South Kordofan state, as well as in Blue Nile, but Juba denies the charge and accuses Khartoum of supporting insurgents south of the border.

The UN ordered both sides to stop the practice.

Sudan says solving security issues must be a top priority.

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