July 1, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Khartoum voiced a cautious welcome to an Ethiopian initiative aiming to hold a summit between Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents in Addis Ababa to push forward the ongoing talks between the two countries.
- Omar Bashir and Salva Kiir
- President Omar al-Bashir (R) walks out with Thabo Mbeki (left) and President Salva Kiir Mayardit after a meeting in 2011 (Reuters)
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) endorsed on 2 May an African Union (AU) roadmap demanding Khartoum and Juba to conclude a deal over the outstanding issues before the 2 August. However, the talks over a buffer zone are deadlocked because Khartoum refuses a map proposed by the mediation team to delimit the demilitarized zone.
Sudan’s vice president, Al-Haj Adam Youssef, who is also the head of political sector in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said on Sunday that his party welcomes the organisation of this presidential summit whenever the appropriate conditions are gathered.
A similar meeting was held in the margins of an AU summit last January to end a dispute between the two countries over oil transportation fees but President Kiir refused a compromise prepared by the mediation team and the Ethiopian Prime Minister.
Al-Haj, further said, after the weekly meeting of NCP political sector, that the party had called to prioritise security issues and expressed hopes that Juba government would make the necessary efforts to build bridges of trust between the two countries.
He noted that the lack of confidence between the two sides had led to the blocking of the implementation of signed security agreements in the past. He stressed in his remarks to the press that building confidence is a starting point to enable the success of the negotiation and to settle the rest of the outstanding issues.
"When we achieve this (confidence-building) we will not need an intermediary," he added.
Sudan accuses South Sudan’s ruling party of supporting its former comrades of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) who are fighting against Khartoum in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Juba is also accused of harbouring and supporting Darfur rebels who formed an alliance with the SPLM-N last November.
Delegations from the two neighbouring countries will resume talks on 5 July. It was announced that besides the joint political and security mechanism (JPSM), different committees will also meet at the same time to tackle the other pending issues.
The recent rounds of talks discussed mainly the disputed border areas and the implementation of a buffer zone, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement.
While Khartoum demands the mediation to withdraw an area called 14 mile from the map before establishing the buffer zone, Juba proposed that the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) be extended to include all the disputed areas.
Juba also demands that the issue of disputed border areas be referred to an international arbitration. However, recently President Bashir said that in 2008 he had accepted bringing the Abyei issue to the arbitration tribunal in The Hague because he was hoping it might contribute to keeping Sudan united.
The UNSC threatened to impose economic sanctions on the two countries if they fail to agree on the pending issues before the 2 August. However, the international community knows well that it has a limited leverage on the parties.