July 19, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir said his meeting with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir was “very positive” and expressed his commitment to meet the deadline of the UN Security Council.
The two leaders held a one-to one meeting on 14 July at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the African Union summit to discuss ways to end the deadlock over outstanding issues.
Bashir said in a statement that on Thursday he assured Salva Kiir that Khartoum has no interest in continuing conflicts, but has a strong desire for peace and normalisation of relations between the two countries as well as promotion of common interests.
The Sudanese president further said that the meeting impacted positively on the African summit, as many African leaders were surprised by this quick rapprochement in contrast to recent hostilities. He, however, said this behaviour is due to the ’Sudanese’ habits "which opt for peaceful solutions no matter how great the differences are."
He said he agreed with Salva Kiir on the need to encourage the ongoing talks on Ethiopia in order to resolve the pending issues, taking into account the deadline set by the UN Security Council of 2 August.
The Bashir-Kiir meeting took place as a result of a strategic framework agreement, inked by the two sides on 7 July. The accord aims to reach a comprehensive solution for all the unresolved issues between the countries but also deals with the situation in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Kiir, in his meeting, offered financial support and also his mediation to end the conflict with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. He asked, on the other hand, for an agreement on oil transit based on international standards and for the holding of an Abyei referendum. He also asked to open the border for trade and movement of people from both sides.
Bashir, in the meeting, pointed out that Juba should stop its support to rebel groups and repeated his rejection to the African Union map to establish a buffer zone.
Sources close to the meeting from both sides say, despite all, the presidents reached a good understanding and left the details for the delegations.
The mediation plans to gather the two leaders soon to get their approval of a series of draft agreements based on the discussions between the two delegations.
Both Sudan and South Sudan are experiencing difficult economic situations. But Khartoum has had to face popular protests and growing dissent.
South Sudanese officials fear that Khartoum might seek to use the recent developments with Juba to send positive signs to the international community and calm the growing popular anger after the lifting of subsidies of oil and basic commodities.