January 24, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan will meet on Friday in Addis Ababa to discuss the implementation of a cooperation agreement they signed last September, following the failure of a recent round of talks between negotiating teams.
- President Omer Al-Bashir smiles after shaking hands with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir following a meeting in Addis Ababa, on 14 July 2012 (Getty)
The presidential meeting comes after a breakdown in the talks at the level of the joint political and security committee on the implementation of the buffer zone.
Khartoum says Juba refuses to pull its troops out of the disputed “Mile14” area, while the latter accused Sudan of seeking to add new provisions to the security arrangements to prevent Sudanese rebels from crossing into South Sudan.
President Omer Al-Bashir will meet his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit, the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) said on Thursday, adding that he will also address the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), which will kick off on Friday.
The presidential meeting will also discuss the divergence on the formation of Abyei legislative council as the South Sudanese side wants 12 of the 20 seats as it was the case before the independence. But Khartoum refused the quest and demands 50% stressing they accepted the past situation to promote unity.
Unconfirmed reports say the AU mediation team will submit new proposals to the presidential meeting aiming to facilitate a comprehensive settlement on outstanding issues.
The AUPSC meeting will also discuss the stalemate in talks between Khartoum and Juba, and decide on whether to refer a proposal to organise a referendum on Abyei’s final status next October to the UN Security Council (UNSC).
The United States this week expressed its regret after the earlier failure of talks between the two countries, urging Khartoum to allow the exportation of South Sudanese oil, saying such a move would in turn encourage Juba to cooperate with Khartoum on “security interests”.
Washington also urged the Sudanese government to hold talks with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) to address the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
However, Khartoum on Thursday refused international calls to enforce an agreement on oil exportation before disengagement between Juba and SPLM-N fighters.
Despite Western efforts, Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti said his country rejected implementing the oil agreement with South Sudan before the completion of security arrangements, stressing that such a move was “unacceptable”.
Speaking from Addis Ababa on Thursday after meetings with a number of African and foreign counterparts, he said that the two presidents had agreed at their last meeting to carry out the signed deals without new conditions and in a coordinated manner.
Karti also questioned why security arrangements were not coordinated with the opening of borders for trade, as well as the oil pipelines.
Speaking to African and foreign officials in Addis Ababa, he expressed Sudan’s hope that the meeting between the two presidents would help in the implementation of agreements and ensure commitment to what has already been signed.