Sudan offers to speed up security, oil deals

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 26 Nov 2012

11/26/2012 16:47 GMT

KHARTOUM, Nov 26, 2012 (AFP) - Sudan on Monday offered to speed up the implementation of security and oil deals with South Sudan after tension flared on their disputed border last week.

But South Sudan said the process has stalled because of Khartoum's insistence on the South disarming rebels operating on northern territory.

Concern has grown that the agreements mediated by the African Union have not gone into effect two months after Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir hailed them as ending the conflict.

The neighbouring states fought along their undemarcated border in March and April.

"President Bashir in a telephone conversation with Salva Kiir agreed to hasten the implementation of the cooperation agreement," the official SUNA news agency said.

The September deals included setting up a demilitarised buffer zone on the border designed to cut support for insurgents in Sudan and to allow a resumption of South Sudanese oil through northern pipelines for export.

In January, South Sudan halted crude production -- which accounts for almost all of its government revenue -- after accusing Khartoum of theft in a long-running dispute over transit fees.

Khartoum has said it is ready to receive the South's oil, and on Monday added that Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein had offered to meet the South in Khartoum to discuss political and security issues.

South Sudan became independent last year under a peace deal ending a 23-year civil war.

Khartoum has accused Juba of supporting the south's former civil war allies in the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which has been fighting since last year against government forces in Sudan's border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Analysts believe the charge is true, despite denials by Juba which in turn accuses Khartoum of backing rebels on southern territory.

Speaking to South Sudanese governors on Monday, Kiir said disarming the SPLM-N was an impossible mission for South Sudan because the rebel group operated in a different country.

"You cannot imagine that a foreign army can cross to another country to go and conduct disarmament. That can't be. It will not happen. It is an impossible mission that our brothers in the government in Khartoum want us to undertake," Kiir said.

"Because of this, Khartoum authorities have refused to accept the passage of South Sudan oil through their territory to market", he added.

"The SPLM North should be negotiating directly with the Sudan government. We are a different country. SPLM North is in a different country."

The African Union has called on Khartoum and the SPLM-N to hold direct negotiations.

Sudan's army on Wednesday confirmed it had launched an attack in the Samaha area near the undemarcated South Sudanese border where another group of rebels from the Darfur region had set up a compound.

But South Sudan said bombs landed on its territory, killing seven civilians.

The Samaha region is one of five border areas disputed by Khartoum and Juba. Separately, the status of the Abyei area remains unresolved.

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