Abyei accord ‘important first step’: Clinton

2011-06-21 07:18

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday welcomed an accord by north and south Sudan to demilitarise Abyei, but said the real test would be how both sides implemented the deal.

The rival governments of north and south Sudan signed the accord yesterday to demilitarise the disputed region and let in an Ethiopian peacekeeping force, mediator Thabo Mbeki told the UN Security Council.

“The agreement signed today is an important first step – but the real test of the parties’ commitment will be the full implementation of its provisions in the coming days,” Clinton said.

“We will work within the UN Security Council to seek a resolution authorising the agreed-upon interim security force to support the swift deployment of the Ethiopian peacekeepers.

“At the same time, I urge all parties to follow through on their commitment to withdraw their military forces and take steps to facilitate the return of the tens of thousands of people displaced by recent fighting.”

Mbeki said the north’s troops, who occupied Abyei on May 21, will withdraw under the deal, amid escalating tensions ahead of southern Sudan’s formal declaration of independence on July 9.

Praising Mbeki and UN envoy Haile Menkerios for their roles in the talks, Clinton said the deal “will reduce tensions in Abyei and improve the security and humanitarian situation on the ground.”

“I know these negotiations have not been easy. I commend both parties for resolving their differences peacefully after the outbreak of violence.”

Khartoum described the agreement as a “sustainable solution,” primarily because it locates the disputed region in the north.

But tens of thousands of people have already fled Abyei, mainly to the south. Aid agencies say there is now a growing humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan, another disputed border region.

Clinton said the United States “is still concerned about ongoing violence in Southern Kordofan and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

“We call on both sides to allow unfettered access for aid workers to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.

We also urge Sudanese leaders in Addis Ababa to agree on an immediate cessation of hostilities.”

She urged both sides to channel their “cooperative spirit” and “work together in the lead up to July and start a new chapter in their country’s history; one of peace, prosperity, and closer ties with the international community.”

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