January 14, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The United Kingdom Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, has welcomed the constructive role that Sudan played in the wake of the recent South Sudan conflict that broke out last month saying that UK supports efforts aimed at reaching a ceasefire in Southern Sudan.
- United Kingdom Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds
Simmonds, who arrived in Khartoum in an official visit on Tuesday, discussed with Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, bilateral relations as well as regional issues of mutual interest particularly developments of the situation in South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Somalia.
The meeting also discussed the role which could be played by the UK in cancelling Sudan’s foreign debts in light of Khartoum and Juba’s agreement to work together towards achieving that objective and Sudan’s fulfillment of conditions for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.
The British minister said, in a message on Twitter following the meeting, that he held a good meeting with Karti on supporting a settlement in South Sudan and with Sudan, asserting that peace needs dialogue not military action.
He further stressed that his government is keen on establishing solid relations with Sudan based on the strong historical ties between the two countries, pointing to the recent positive developments in the cultural and academic cooperation between Sudan and UK.
Simmonds expressed appreciation to Khartoum’s positive role in rebuilding state apparatus in Somalia, saying that UK government is willing to cooperate with Sudan on those efforts.
Karti, for his part, stressed Sudan is keen on stability and peace in South Sudan, renewing commitment to implement cooperation agreements signed between the two countries.
In September of 2012, 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.
He also pointed to recent visits of South Sudan’s ministers of foreign affairs and petroleum to Khartoum, mentioning that Sudan opened its borders to refugees fleeing the armed conflict and continues to provide humanitarian assistance to South Sudan.
The British minister also discussed with the head of Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), Tijani Al-Sissi, the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and the non-signatory rebel groups besides the role of the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
Both sides have agreed on the need to continue supporting development efforts in the region.
Last November, Karti blasted Britain’s stances towards his country saying that London had demonstrated hostility towards Khartoum in all forums and had backed all negative decisions and sanctions committees.
He stressed that the UK arranged for UNSC resolution 1706 which sought to put Darfur under the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping forces, as well as UNSC resolution 1593 which referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He affirmed that the Sudanese government supports closer ties with London but said Khartoum has yet to see any signs for rapprochement in the UK’s official policies, legislations or organizations.
The top Sudanese diplomat added that one state minister at the UK foreign ministry, in reference to Simmonds, proclaimed himself a speaker on behalf of the ICC concerning president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir’s visit to Saudi Arabia for the Mecca pilgrimage.
Bashir is sought by the ICC for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes he allegedly masterminded in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.