January 6, 2013 (JUBA/KHARTOUM) - Sudan and South Sudan may establish a joint force to protect the oil fields from rebels threatening the new nation’s sovereignty, Ali Karti, the Sudanese foreign minister said on Monday.
- South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) and his Sudan counterpart Omer al-Bashir hold a joint news briefing in the state house in capital Juba January 6, 2014 (Reuters/ James Akena).
The new proposal, according to Karti, was reached at by both countries after the Sudanese leader Omer Al-Bashir visited his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir for talks in the capital, Juba.
"The two countries may agree on specific arrangements and these forces will be deployed along the borders between the two countries if a deal is reached," Karti told reporters in Khartoum.
He further reaffirmed that Bashir had agreed to open the border for South Sudanese nationals without any restrictions, and that they could move freely in all the parts of Sudan as it was prior to South Sudan’s independence in 2011.
Sudan fears the three-week-old conflict in its southern neighbour could disrupt oil flows and damage its own struggling economy.
Bashir said he visited his South Sudanese counterpart to understand the ongoing political crisis, considered by government as a failed coup attempt by those opposed to President Kiir’s regime.
Speaking at a joint news conference held in Juba, Bashir said he directed opening of the border for all South Sudanese in implementation of the four freedoms agreement, adding that he would protect all South Sudanese citizens within its territories.
“I have come to see brother Salva Kiir and the people of this country. There should be peace and security in South Sudan. We have come so that we [Government of Sudan] can see what we can do, so that we bring peace to our brothers and sisters in South Sudan”, he said.
“Our relationship is very important," added the Sudanese leader, who was accompanied by Karti, defence minister Abdel Rahim Hussein, oil minister Makawi Mohamed Awad, presidential affairs minister Salah Wansi and director of security and intelligence Mohamed Atta
Bashir’s visit came as negotiators in the Ethiopia began a process of direct ceasefire talks to end weeks of fighting in South Sudan.
SUPPORTS IGAD TALKS
The Sudanese leader, who held a closed-door meeting President Kiir, also pledged full support for ongoing peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa mediated by regional leaders from the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The diplomatic effort by regional leaders is aimed at ending three weeks of fighting in South Sudan that has left thousands dead and about 200,000 people displaced.
Meanwhile, South Sudan’s foreign affairs spokesman told Sudan Tribune that Bashir’s visit showed the desire by Sudan government and its people to ensure the new nation lives in peace and stability.
“Sudan firmly believes all violent means to overthrow legitimate governments must be rejected”, Makol Mawien said Monday.