January 3, 2013 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and foreign ministers of Norway, UK and US governments welcomed Sudan-South Sudan presidential summit scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa on Friday, calling for the leaders to decisively address the remaining outstanding issues and to implement existing security arrangements.
- President Omer Al-Bashir smiles after shaking hands with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir following a meeting in Addis Ababa, on July 14, 2012 (Getty)
Sudanese and South Sudanese delegations agreed during their last meeting in Addis Ababa in December to withdraw troops from their disputed border areas and to establish the agreed demilitarised zone. The joint political security committee is expected to resume discussions soon.
Presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir will meet in the Ethiopian capital to discuss the issue of rebel groups which hamper the operationalisation of the buffer zone but also to tackle the referendum of Abyei and the ownership of other disputed areas on the world’s newest international border.
"The Secretary-General encourages both Presidents to address decisively all outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan regarding security, border demarcation and the final status of the Abyei Area, to urgently activate agreed border security mechanisms, and implement all other agreements signed on 27 September 2012”, the UN head said a statement released on Thursday.
Ban reiterated the UN readiness to " to support the parties in implementing their agreements and to assist in the resolution of all remaining disputes".
Hilary Clinton, the US Secretary of State and the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide, in a joint statement, welcomed news of the meeting between the two leaders, saying it will bolster efforts to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries.
“We applaud the progress made at their Presidential Summit held in Addis Ababa at the end of September 2012, which demonstrated that a durable and equitable settlement is within reach” partly reads the 3 January joint statement.
Both Clinton and her Norwegian counterpart commended the “continuing valuable” role of the Thabo Mbeki-led African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) as well as the efforts of Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.
They, however, expressed regret over the slow implementation of the 27 September agreement signed by the two leaders, citing the failure by the two countries to fulfill the agreed security arrangements regarding the border, which is not yet in place.
“We call on the two leaders now to address concretely all outstanding issues and ensure that the armed forces of the two countries immediately withdraw from the demilitarized zone and deploy the Joint Border and Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), in line with what has been agreed,” adds the statement.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), also welcomed the Addis Ababa meeting between the two presidents under the auspices of the Chairperson of the Inter-Governmental Authority Development (IGAD), the Ethiopian Prime Minister and AUHIP Chair.
The AU chief, in a 4 January statement, said she hopes the meeting will enable the two leaders to overcome the challenges encountered in the implementation of the landmark agreements on the post-secession relations between their countries, as well as to find solutions to the pending issues of the Abyei Area and the borders.
Despite statements from both sides reflecting divergent positions over the different issues and the recent accusations of fresh attacks inside South Sudanese territory by the Sudan Armed Forces, the two parties announced their commitment to attend the meeting and to seek seriously to break the deadlocked negotiations.
In Khartoum, the first vice-president Ali Osman Taha expressed on Wednesday his optimism saying he expects a breakthrough in the upcoming summit between Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir stressing that the two leaders are capable of finding radical solutions to avoid war.
Bashir’s delegation will include presidential affairs minister Bakri Hassan Saleh, Defence minister Abdel Rahim Hussein, foreign minister Ali Karti and the head of National Intelligence and Security Service Mohamed Atta.
South Sudan’s information minister, Barnaba Benjamin Marial, on Thursday, said he remains optimistic that Friday’s meeting between the two presidents would take place as initially planned.
“The meeting of our President Salva Kiir Mayardit and President Omer al-Bashir will go ahead on the 4th of January 2013 and their main topics of discussion will be simply the implementation of the agreements that has been signed,” Marial told a news conference in the South Sudan capital, Juba.
He said South Sudan had already sent its chief negotiator, Pagan Amum to the venue of the meeting, ahead of Kiir’s visit to meet his Sudanese counterpart at the much-anticipated summit. South Sudan’s Defence minister, John Kong Nyuong and the minister in the office of the presidency, Emmanuel Lowilla are expected to accompany President Kiir to the Ethiopian capital.