No deal as Mbeki-mediated Sudan talks fizzle out

The latest week-long round of talks between Sudan and South Sudan has ended without any deal on the contentious issues of disputed border areas and oil revenue sharing, mediators said on Tuesday.

The two parties did agree that their respective presidents, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir, would meet at a summit to be held in South Sudan’s capital Juba “quite soon”, lead mediator Thabo Mbeki told reporters, without elaborating on the date.

Talks on nationality were stalled after Juba accused Khartoum of failing to address the fate of 35 000 people the South said were being held as “slaves” in Sudan.

“One of the agreements in the document is to set up a joint high-level committee of the two states ... to deal with this matter of nationals of the other state,” said Mbeki.

On the oil revenue sharing issue, Mbeki said: “What will happen is when the two parties meet again in the context of the continuing negotiations the matter will serve on their agenda.”

Contested border areas
The latest talks ended three days earlier than scheduled.

South Sudan split from the North in July, taking with it 75% of the country’s oil but the export and processing facilities remain in Sudan.

Before the split, the north and south fought a two decade civil war in which more than two million people died.

In the African Union-backed talks in Addis Ababa the two sides agreed to discuss the disputed border areas as well as oil revenue-sharing ahead of the summit scheduled between the leaders in Juba.

Bloody clashes have erupted in several contested border areas which have threatened to reignite war between the two civil-war foes.

Air attacks
Sudan’s forces overran the disputed territory of Abyei in May last year and have been accused of staging air attacks on the South. The Khartoum government in turn accuses the South’s government of backing rebels in its South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions.

The UN Security Council, in a forceful statement last week, demanded that Sudan and South Sudan end border hostilities and head off moves to war.

“The Security Council demands that all parties cease military operations in the border areas and put an end to the cycle of violence.”

The council also demanded that both governments “take no action that would undermine the security and stability of the other, including through any direct or indirect form of support to armed groups in the other’s territory”.—AFP

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