July 13, 2012 (JUBA/KHARTOUM) - South Sudan expressed on Friday hopes to break the stalled talks with Sudan and to conclude an agreement over post-secession issues and to embark on building strong bilateral ties.
- South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir attends the reopening of parliamentary sessions in Juba, South Sudan on June 11, 2012 (Getty)
The delegations of the two countries resumed talks in the city of Bahr Dar in Amhara state, Ethiopia after reaching a comprehensive strategic approach to sign an agreement over the outstanding issues they have discussed on and off in Addis Ababa for over a year.
Since last week the two sides vowed to operationalise a buffer zone on their shared border and to stop support to rebel groups. Also unformed rumours say they reached an advanced stage in their talks over other issues including Abyei, oil transportation and border trade.
"We have resumed negotiations today (Friday) in a positive mood. Such beginning open up ways to exchange fresh ideas and thoughts with new spirit of peaceful dialogue", said Pagan Amum, South Sudan’s chief negotiator.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune from Ethiopia, he added he was happy with the way the negotiations have resumed after reaching an understanding last week to discuss all the pending issues with commitment to settling dispute.
"This new spirit I believe we will get out with something positive. Peace is in the interest of our people. They need peace to prevail so that we can live side by side as friendly neighbours," Amum said explaining that his country has always been committed to improving relations with Khartoum.
He said the two delegations will discuss all the issues together as Sudan has dropped its security-first approach, underscoring that the two sides have committed themselves to resolve the border dispute.
Amum also explained that the disputed Abyei region would also be tackled and that both sides agreed during the last round talks to create an open border to promote trade between the two nations.
The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) will discuss the ongoing talks between the two countries in a meeting to be held on Saturday with the participation of presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir.
AUPSC Commissioner Ramadan Al-Amamra expressed hope on Friday that the two leaders send encouraging signs for their two delegations.
The Council is optimistic that with the current spirit prevailing in the talks, the two parties would reach an agreement over the outstanding issues before the deadline of 2 August determined by the UN Security Council, he said in statement to the Sudanese news agency SUNA.
South Sudan’s Minister of information and cabinet’s spokesperson told Sudan Tribune that his country’s delegation had the full authority to discuss all the outstanding issues with Khartoum without having to worry because they have the backing of the president and his government.
"They have the mandate of our people to negotiate with the government of Sudan on all outstanding issues. They are strong team of committed people," Marial stressed.
The minister said the two sides had last week agreed "to strengthen and enhance the political will and added that there was no agreement on a demilitarised buffer zone along the border at the latest round of talks.
"What is important at this stage is ’normalisation’ of relations. This is what mediators are currently giving a first priority, because if the two sides in mood then it becomes difficult to talk about border demarcation or creation of safe border zone", he explained.