Sudan

Sudan to strengthen economic ties with S. Africa

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News Article by Xinhua posted on February 27, 2003 at 13:15:57: EST (-5 GMT)

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 27, 2003 (Xinhua) -- Improving economic cooperation with South Africa will be high on the agenda once peace is restored in the Sudan, visiting Sudanese Vice President Moses Machar said Thursday.

The ongoing peace negotiations are "very promising" and should result in a truce in a few months, he told reporters in Pretoria after meeting with South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

"Should this be possible, then we hope that economic ties with South Africa should be strengthened," Machar was quoted by the South African Press Association as saying Thursday. "That is why we would like to talk to the business sector tomorrow morning."

The next round of Sudanese peace talks is to start on March 4. South Africa is an observer to the negotiations.

The current focus of discussions is the division of wealth and power, Machar said, and once this has been resolved, negotiations on security arrangements for political leaders will follow.

Machar said the areas of business the Sudan will most like to pursue with South African investors are electricity, water, roads and bridges.

He is expected to hold talks with the South African Chamber of Business, the South African Council of Churches, and African National Congress Secretary-General Kgalema Motlanthe before departing Sunday morning.

Zuma underlined the need for stronger bilateral ties, with the focus on economic matters.

"There is a keen interest that there should be economic interaction between the two countries," he said.

A civil war has raged in the Sudan since 1983, pitting black Africans in the south against the Arab north.

An estimated two million people have died in the war, mainly from illnesses and famine brought about by displacement.