December 11, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – China has encouraged Sudan and South Sudan to peacefully resolve their disputes over oil and border, warning of far-reaching consequences should the recently separated countries fail to do so.
- China’s envoy for African affairs, Liu Guijin (L), and UK Special Envoy for Darfur Michael Ryder (REUTERS)
Sudan and South Sudan have been at loggerheads over the fees Juba should pay for the use of Khartoum’s pipeline infrastructure to bring the landlocked South’s oil to export terminals in Sudan’s main sea outlet in Port Sudan.
AU-mediated talks held between the two sides in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa collapsed in late November as Khartoum threatened to impose a unilateral fee of $36 per barrel and confiscate oil shipped from the south which, according to Khartoum, has not paid any fees for the use of its pipelines since independence.
The South said it would consider suspending the production if Sudan carried out its threats.
China is the biggest investor in Sudanese oil, most of which was taken by the South when it seceded in July. In response to the crisis, China dispatched its envoy for African affairs, Liu Guijin, in order to break the deadlock.
A statement reported on Sunday by Xinhua quoted Liu Guijin as expressing his country’s concern and that of the international community towards the developments.
"China encourages the two parties to stick to the peaceful option, adopt active procedures to avoid further escalation and resolve the difference through dialogue and negotiations," he added.
Liu Guijin arrived in Khartoum on Thursday after visiting South Sudan’s capital Juba where he held talks with senior officials including president Salva Kiir. In Khartoum, the Chinese envoy held talks with the Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha on Saturday and exchanged viewpoints on the dispute.
According to Xinhua’s report, Taha said that his country would positively deal with the mediation efforts of the international community and expressed Sudan’s hope that China would play a positive role to push the efforts to resolve the outstanding issues.
Prior to the meeting, the Chinese diplomat warned of serious consequences if the two sides failed to resolve the dispute over oil transit fees and demarcation of borders.
“If the two sides fail to resolve the problem, the whole region would be affected, the repercussions would be very serious," he said. "The consequences would be lose lose for all."
South Sudan last week said it offered to pay an average of 70 U.S per barrel. The two sides are expected to resume talks in Addis Ababa in about a week.