June 16, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Chinese special envoy to Africa Zhong Jianhua held talks in Khartoum today with the oil minister Awad al-Jaz in the wake of Sudan’s decision last week to block flow of oil from landlocked South Sudan.
- FILE - Zhong Jianhua, China’s special Envoy to Africa, poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, July 16, 2012. (REUTERS/Michael Matina)
The minister informed ambassador Jianhua that the transportation of oil from South Sudan will continue through Sudan’s pipelines as a goodwill gesture from Khartoum.
But al-Jazz stressed that Juba must implement the nine cooperation agreements as one package and dismissed the need for new negotiations.
The minister cautioned that the stoppage will remain in place if Juba does not abide to the agreements signed adding that its actions so far shows its lack of seriousness.
He also called on Beijing to play a positive and powerful role within the 60-day deadline set by Khartoum regarding the closure of the oil pipelines.
The Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir publicly ordered al-Jaz last week to immediately shut down the pipelines carrying Juba’s oil for exporting.
"O’ Awad [oil minister] tomorrow direct oil companies to close the pipeline and after that let them [South Sudan] take it via Kenya or Djibouti or wherever they want to take it", the Sudanese president said at a rally in north Khartoum.
"The oil of South Sudan will not pass through Sudan ever again," Bashir added.
But Sudanese officials later talked down the order saying it will take effect after 60 days and not immediately. They also pointed out that the directive could be reversed should Juba heed to Sudan’s demand of giving up support to anti-Khartoum rebel groups.
The Chinese envoy expressed his country’s desire to develop relations between Khartoum and Juba and said that there are efforts underway to come up with firm solutions to help sustain the agreements signed.
He noted that South Sudan suffered during the year and a half when Juba suspended oil production after a dispute with Khartoum over fees associated with using Sudan’s pipelines.
Jianhua said he hopes that a satisfactory solution is reached for both sides to achieve their common interests.
The Chinese official is expected to visit both Juba and Addis Ababa as part of Beijing’s efforts to end the fresh crisis. He met later in the day with Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti.
In September of last year, both Sudan and South Sudan signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, border trade among others.
Last March, the two countries signed an implementation matrix for these cooperation agreements.
The most notable provision in the agreement is related to resumption of oil exports by landlocked South Sudan which were suspended more than a year ago because of a dispute over transit fees. Oil started flowing again in April.
This week China’s foreign ministry said that Beijing is closely watching the recent twists in relations between Sudan and South Sudan and their impact on the oil sector which is largely dominated by Chinese oil companies.