August 16, 2012 (JUBA) – A US congressional delegation on Wednesday visited Juba and met with the leadership of South Sudan to discuss a wide range of issues in the country.
Led by Congressman Jack Kingston, the delegation, comprising of five members each from the Republicans and Democrats, held separate meetings with the President, Salva Kiir and the Vice President, Riek Machar, in the presence of ministers of the government.
The visiting delegation presented a number of queries to the South Sudanese officials about the current security, political and economic situation in the country.
These include the current relationship with Khartoum and how it is envisaged for the future to come. The South Sudanese officials briefed them also on the current status of negotiations in Addis Ababa on the outstanding issues between Khartoum and Juba.
The meetings discussed the status of Abyei and the ongoing talks to resolve the differences and allow the region to conduct its referendum on self-determination.
Negotiating teams from Sudan and South Sudan are expecting to meet next week in Addis to discuss the pending issues after sealing a deal on oil transportation fees earlier this month.
Khartoum says security on the comment border is crucial to implement the oil deal and asks Juba to stop its support to Sudanese rebels.
Earlier this month, US special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Princeton Lyman, said they consider to resume talks on the normalisation of relations with Sudan because the poor relations between the two countries prevent Washington from playing fully its leading role .
But the removal of sanctions requires to consult the Congress which has tough stance against Khartoum.
The Congressmen further tackled the situation in the two Sudanese states of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile and the role South Sudan can play in helping Khartoum to resolve the conflict.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir pledged last month to facilitate the settlement of the conflict between the SPLM-North rebels and Khartoum government.
The lawmakers said they came to assess the humanitarian situation, particularly of the Sudanese refugees who fled fighting from Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile and have crossed over to South Sudan.
The United States is one of the main providers of humanitarian assistance to the Sudanese refugees in South Sudan through the World Food Program (WFP).