February 13, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Joint political-security talks between Sudan and South Sudan scheduled to start on Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital have been postponed indefinitely, according to a news report.
- Sudan’s minister of defence, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein (R), talks to the South’s minister for the SPLA, Nhial Deng Nhial, after a joint news conference at the ministry of defence headquarters in Khartoum, 11 November 2010. (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
The privately-owned Al-Shorooq TV said that the African Union (AU) mediation team, led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, did not set a new date for the negotiations.
No reason was given for the delay but sources told the channel that the United States was behind the move due to the slow pace of implementing the previous deals signed last September.
During talks in Ethiopia last month, Sudan’s president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, and his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, failed to end a stalemate over withdrawing armies from a border region - a prerequisite for resuming oil exports.
Landlocked South Sudan shutdown oil output a year ago following a dispute over how much the new nation should pay in pipeline fees to transport crude via its northern neighbour for export from Port Sudan on the Mediterranean.
Delegations from the two countries were to discuss modalities of the security arrangements. Khartoum accused Juba last month of making new demands over the demilitarised zone and refusing to give up its alleged support of rebels from Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Made up of fighters who sided with the South during the civil war, SPLM-N controls part of the Sudan side of the border, which complicates setting up the buffer zone.
In a related issue the Sudanese army (SAF) denied that any skirmishes had erupted with South Sudan at the borders or that there has been any military build-up on their part.
“There is no truth to the accusation by South Sudan that we are amassing our troops along the border area and there are no armed battles between us and them, but there are existing tribal interactions that caused the recent armed conflict”, Sudan army spokesperson Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad said.
He also downplayed reports that South Sudan deployed troops to the borders, saying that they have not monitored anything unusual.
Col Sa’ad also stressed that Juba has no capability or interest in going to war with Sudan.
Yesterday, Kiir ordered the urgent and coordinated deployment of joint police and government troops to border areas with Sudan.
Juba has accused Khartoum of building up troops and using militia groups to attack areas along the border in Unity state.