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South Sudan and Sudan agree on demilitarized border zone

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(09th March 2013) - South Sudan and Sudan negotiating teams have agreed to establish a safe demilitarized border zone between the two countries.

In an extraordinary meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, both sides agreed to immediately and unconditionally withdraw their forces from the contested areas to be completed within the next two weeks.

Addressing journalists in Addis Ababa, the Chairman of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel Thabo Mbeki said that the withdrawal will allow establishment of a safe demilitarized buffer zone.

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement between the two countries and said there should be no further conditions for the implementation of the Cooperation agreements.

The meeting in Addis Ababa is expected to last two days. Addressing journalists in Juba, before leaving for the meeting, South Sudan lead negotiator, Pagan Amum said that the two sides will discuss and hopefully finalize the matrix for implementation of the Cooperation Agreements.

“It has always been our wish that the September 27th agreements be implemented, unfortunately the government of Sudan has obstructed the implementation since and they have been moving goal posts putting one condition after another. We are hopeful that this time round the government of Sudan will be serious and will proceed with us to implement the agreements that we have signed,” said Amum.

Both countries signed nine Cooperation agreements in September last year covering oil, issues to do with citizenship and security. Implementation of the deals has however stalled because of demands by the Sudanese government for the South to stop supporting rebels fighting the Khartoum government, an allegation the Juba government strongly denies.