August 15, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit will make a state visit Khartoum later this month for talks with Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir over bilateral relations, according to senior diplomats.
- Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir (C) meets his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir (L) upon his arrival at the Juba Airport in South Sudan April 12, 2013. (Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)
South Sudan’s new foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, is expected to travel to Khartoum to for talks with his Sudanese counterpart Ali Ahmed Karti to agree on the agenda and date for the summit.
"The minister of foreign affairs is supposed to go first (to Khartoum) but he is now scheduled to attend the first anniversary of the death of the late Ethiopian prime minister in Addis Ababa next week. He will go on Monday 19", the spokesperson of the foreign affairs and international cooperation ministry, Mawien Makol told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
The Meles Zenawi Foundation announced that the commemoration will start on August 20.
The office of the president also confirmed that Kiir will visit Khartoum this month to discuss the implementation of the 11-month-old cooperation agreement between the two nations, which involves border security and claims claims over support to rebel groups, oil exports, citizenship and other issues.
It is expected that the two leaders will also discuss how to resolve the impasse on the disputed status of the Abyei area, strengthening mechanisms to resolve other contested and claimed border areas.
Kiir’s second visit to Sudan since the independence of his country is seen as another sign of a thaw in relations between Khartoum and Juba.
Sudan this week said it pushed back a date to stop the flow of South Sudanese oil until 6 September, alluding to positive steps taken to stop Juba alleged support for the Sudanese rebel groups.
South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, also confirmed the visit, explaining it demonstrates the commitment of his government to establish and promote strong relations with Sudan.
"I believe that the planned visit makes it clear that the government of the Republic of South Sudan under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit wants not just a strong, normal, but special relationship with Sudan. It also demonstrates our commitment to fully implement the cooperation agreement", Marial told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
Marial, who previously served as South Sudan’s information minister, is among few ministers who survived the recent overhaul of the cabinet.
He said his ministry’s objective was to win back trust and set a good precedent between the countries, arguing there was a need for the leadership of the two nations to work together.
"We need to support the two leaders resolve issues of contention amicably, through the use of such mechanisms", Marial said in reference to the summit planned to take place in Khartoum.
He said history and the common border could provide mutual bonds between the countries and to lay a strong groundwork for lasting bilateral cooperation.
"When I came to the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, the first thing I asked was cooperation in the ministry so that it could allow us, whether small or big official to promote friendly relations as a priority with Sudan", he explained.