News24

Sudans commit to talks

2012-07-15 14:46

Addis Ababa - African leaders brought together the presidents of feuding neighbours Sudan and South Sudan on Saturday and fleshed out a plan for military intervention in northern Mali where they said al-Qaeda-linked rebels threatened the continent's security.

After attending a summit of the African Union's Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, Sudanese leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir afterwards met for face-to-face talks at a hotel in the Ethiopian capital.

It was their first close-up encounter since their countries came close to war in April and it raised hopes for a negotiated settlement of oil and border disputes before a 2 August UN Security Council deadline.

Their African peers had hailed their presence at the earlier gathering, and their pledges to pursue negotiations and not conflict, as an encouraging sign that the two former civil war foes could settle their disputes over border demarcation and sharing of oil revenues.

"Their statements persuaded us that there is good will," Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who chairs the AU Council, told reporters after the closed-door session.

Clashed

Landlocked South Sudan shut down oil production in January over a dispute with Khartoum about revenue sharing and fees for a pipeline through Sudan - the South's only outlet for its oil exports. The two countries' armies clashed in April over the disputed border oil area of Heglig.

The African heads of state met at AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital to discuss ways to resolve messy aftermaths of military coups this year in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, which have put blots on the continent's democratic credentials after advances in stability and governance in recent years.

Besides backing reconciliation between the Sudans, they also threw their weight behind regional efforts to end a military rebellion in east Democratic Republic of Congo that has strained ties between Kinshasa and its Great Lakes neighbour Rwanda.

Focusing on Mali, where al-Qaeda-linked local and foreign jihadists have seized control of the largely desert north after hijacking a rebellion by secular Tuareg separatists, the leaders said Africa would "spare no effort" to reunite the country.