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Sudan and South Sudan sign treaty

By SAPA Time of article published Feb 11, 2012

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Sudan and South Sudan have signed a non-aggression treaty, as part of internationally-led efforts to reduce tensions along their poorly demarcated border, local media reported Saturday.

The countries have also set up a monitoring mechanism so that complaints can be registered and dealt with peacefully, according to former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki, who has been leading negotiations between the sides in Addis Ababa on behalf of the African Union.

The deal was signed by South Sudan's intelligence chief, Thomas Douth, and his counterpart from Khartoum, Mohammed Atta.

Juba last month halted oil production, after the north started seizing shipment to cover what it says are unpaid transit fees, heightening regional tensions.

Landlocked South Sudan must export its natural resources through the north, but the sides cannot agree on a price sharing deal.

Sudan lost about two-thirds of its oil production when the south split last year to form the world's newest sovereign state. Both countries depend heavily on oil sales to fill their coffers.

The two countries have also failed to agree on how to share debt responsibilities and where to draw their border.

“The moment has come for the leaders of both countries to make the necessary compromises, once again, that will guarantee a peaceful and prosperous future for both nations,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's office said in a statement on Friday.

More than 130,000 people have fled three key border regions in recent months, owing to fighting between a militia allied with South Sudan's ruling party and the Sudanese army, according to the United Nations.

Khartoum has also been accused of aiding armed groups hostile to the south while conducting aerial strikes inside South Sudan, according to aid groups and Juba.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged war crimes in the restive Darfur region in the country's west, where a low-level conflict, ongoing since 2003, is still simmering.

Al-Bashir has warned that tensions with South Sudan could lead to a new war. The south became independent in July 2011 after decades of conflict. -Sapa-dpa

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