June 3, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has accepted an invitation from the Indian government, apparently in a diplomatic outreach to build closer relations with the resource-rich country and secure investment opportunities in the new nation.
A top presidential aide told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the invitation had “been a very long and overdue" and was being arranged through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Indian Embassy in Juba.
He said the visit would be important because it will help consolidate diplomatic relations between the countries as it would be Kiir’s first official visit since South Sudan became Africa’s 54th and the United Nation’s 194th member, after it seceded from Sudan in July last year.
India holds a 25% stake in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium with the China National Petroleum Corporation (40%) and stake; Malaysia’s PETRONAS (25%).
The joint venture has experienced difficulties since South Sudan shut down its entire oil production, accusing Sudan of confiscating $85 million of oil dollars, in February.
Sudan says it began taken South Sudan’s crude as payment for unpaid fees. South Sudan took with it 75% of the country’s oil-production but the only pipelines and refineries available the young landlocked nation to export its oil lie in north Sudan.
Transit fees are one of the main sticking points in post-partition negotiations between the two nations.