Sudan, S.Sudan resume talks

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IOL pic aug1 sudan bashir Reuters (File image) Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Addis Ababa - Sudan and South Sudan resumed talks Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital to resolve outstanding disputes over oil, border demarcation, security and the Abyei region, negotiators said.

“Oil and economic-related issues, border issues (and) Abyei, these are the issues that are on the agenda,” South Sudan's Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Deng Alor, told AFP.

Sudan and South Sudan fought along their undemarcated frontier in March and April, sparking fears of wider war and leading to a UN Security Council resolution which ordered a ceasefire.

It also ordered the settlement of unresolved issues, under African Union mediation.

In early August those talks led to a breakthrough deal on export fees landlocked Juba will pay Khartoum to ship its oil through northern pipelines.

Talks kicked off Tuesday evening, with Alor meeting Sudanese negotiator Idriss Mohammed Abdel Qadir and the AU chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki.

However, Alor said the details of the oil deal need to be finalised, along with reaching an agreement on the flashpoint Abyei region, demarcating contested frontier regions and setting up a demilitarised border buffer zone.

South Sudan took with it at independence two thirds of the region's oil, though processing and export facilities remained in the north.

In January, the South shut off oil production Ä damaging the economies of both countries Ä after accusing Sudan of stealing its oil.

Last month, both sides agreed on a $9.48 per barrel export fee, but Alor said finalising the oil deal and resuming production is critical for both sides.

“There is a sense of urgency, (because) of the agreement on oil which the two countries need badly,” Alor said, adding that it could take three to six months before oil exports resume once a final deal is reached.

The AU set a September 22 deadline for this round of talks after both sides failed to reach a comprehensive agreement last month, missing a UN deadline of August 2.

Sudan's Qadir said he was optimistic both sides will resolve a deal on all unresolved issues by the new cut off date.

“We hope so,” Qadir told AFP, when asked if he thought an agreement could be reached. - Sapa-AFP


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