Sudan, S Sudan resume border work

2014-11-04 22:55
Sudanese soldiers walk in the oil town of Heglig. (Ebrahim Hamid, AFP)

Sudanese soldiers walk in the oil town of Heglig. (Ebrahim Hamid, AFP)

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Khartoum - The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan agreed Tuesday to resume work to demarcate their contested border, a dispute that boiled over into armed conflict between the countries in 2012.

The south split from the north in 2011 under a peace agreement ending 22 years of civil war, and the two remain at odds over unresolved issues from the secession, including the frontier.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday for talks that followed a new flare-up of fighting in his country's 11-month civil war.

Kiir and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said a joint committee would resume meetings to oversee "the demarcation of the buffer zone on the border, with the deployment of troops outside the buffer zone".

Juba and Khartoum briefly battled for the Heglig oil field on the frontier before Sudan took the area.

The conflict led to the signing of agreements in September 2012 appointing a joint body to create a buffer zone between the two, although this was suspended in May.

The presidents said in the joint statement read by Foreign Minister Ali Karti that they would again cease "supporting and hosting the rebel groups from both sides," without giving further details.

Last week, rebels attacked the oil town of Bentiu, capital of South Sudan's Unity state on the border, ending a lull in fighting during the rainy season, which renders roads impassable to military vehicles.

A visibly tired Kiir said he would work with Sudan to "lift its foreign debts," without elaborating.

He had been due to leave late Tuesday but Sudan's ambassador to Juba, Mutrief Siddig, told reporters Kiir would spend an extra night in Khartoum because his plane had suffered "technical problems".

Oil threatened

Clashes between the rebels and troops loyal to Kiir have also raged in South Sudan's Upper Nile state, another key oil-producing area, further threatening exports though Sudan, a key revenue earner for Khartoum.

Southern oil exports through Port Sudan were also on the agenda for the talks, along with security issues, Sudan's ambassador to Juba said ahead of the meeting.

The South's secession saw it take most of the formerly united country's 470 000 barrels per day of oil production.

But the civil war, which erupted in the South last December, has seriously hit its oil output and Khartoum's earnings from transit fees on exports, which all pass through Sudan.

What began as a political dispute between Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar has degenerated into a brutal ethnic conflict between their Dinka and Nuer peoples, driving 1.8 million people from their homes.

Hundreds of thousands have fled across the border to camps in Sudan.

Read more on:    omar al-bashir  |  salva kiir  |  sudan  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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