October 16, 2013 (JUBA) - Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir is expected for an official visit to South Sudan on 22 October, according to a senior South Sudan official.
- Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir (R) attends a welcome ceremony with his South Sudan’s counterpart Salva Kiir (L) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport on September 3, 2013 (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
The visit will be the third by the Bashir since South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011.
The visit will also come two weeks after the two countries signed an agreement allowing establishment of official entry crossing points on both sides of the border and committing to honour past pledges including releasing of prisoners of war.
Asked about the visit, a spokesperson for South Sudan’s ministry of foreign affairs said he had unofficially heard about it but said South Sudan had not yet received official communication from their counterparts in Khartoum.
"It [the visit ] remains a rumour. There is no official communication at the moment with the government of Sudan. The Sudanese embassy here says it sent to our official account a document about this information but we have not opened it because our system has been experiencing some technical issues for the whole of today", Ambassador Mawien Makol told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
However, Makol said contact with officials at South Sudan’s embassy in Khartoum indicate Bashir will likely visit South Sudan next week.
"The information we have from Khartoum shows that president Bashir is expected to visit Juba on 22 October, but it has not been officially confirmed", he further said.
Meanwhile, Eye Radio, a local radio station supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) quoted Sudanese Information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman confirming the visit, saying it is aimed at strengthening the relations between the two countries.
“I can say that we need the visits to continue in a natural manner. We want the visit to be normal because the two Presidents are brothers,’’ Eye Radio quoted minister Osman as saying.
According to Eye Radio, the minister said the Abyei referendum and demarcation of the border will likely be discussed by the two heads of state.
The Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents agreed last September during a summit held in Khartoum to fully implement the cooperation agreements signed in September 2012.
Abyei and some border zones remains the only unresolved issues between the two sides.