January 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese foreign minister, Ali Karti, has announced his government’s readiness for negotiations on Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas where the army is battling the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N).
- Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende (R) gives a joint press conference with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti on January 26, 2014 in Khartoum (AFP Photo/Ebrahim Hamid)
Karti told reporters following a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart Borge Brende in Khartoum on Sunday, that the Sudanese government is making every possible effort to arrive at peaceful solutions for all problems in order to achieve stability and security across the country.
He denounced SPLM-N for resorting to foreign parties to resolve the issue.
The Blue Nile and South Kordofan’s conflict erupted months apart from each other in 2011 when Sudan attempted to forcibly disarm SPLM-N fighters it accuses of being backed by their brother-in-arms in the South Sudanese army.
The two parties failed to continue peace talks to reach a negotiated settlement. The difference over the agenda of the negotiations and the humanitarian crisis hamper the efforts of the African Union (AU) mediation to bring the two parties to the negotiating table.
The first round of talks between the SPLM-N and the Sudanese government in April 2013 at the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa adjourned without success in bridging the wide gap between the two sides.
Today the SPLM-N Secretary General Yasser Arman revealed that they received an invitation from AU mediators to resume negotiations on February 5th in Addis Ababa.
Arman pointed out that their position is to stop the war by addressing the humanitarian crisis across the country from Blue Nile to Darfur and reaching a comprehensive political solution with the participation of all political forces and civil society.
He accused Khartoum of continuing to bombard civilians in rebel-held areas leading to the displacement 30,000 people in al-Abbasiya, Tigli and Rashad areas in South Kordofan at a time when humanitarian aid has stopped.
Arman described this as a war crime that would be punished sooner or later and warned that the SPLM-N is making a list of strategic targets "in the heart of the enemy’s strongholds" in order to retaliate.
He claimed that the SPLM-N destroyed 9 army convoys in North Kordofan, South Kordofan and Blue Nile which Arman said represents 60 % of Khartoum’s mobilized preparations for its military campaign.
The SPLM-N official said that the Sudanese army used 511 vehicles loaded with guns in the battle of Troji but despite this suffered a major military defeat at the hand of the rebels.
Late last year Khartoum vowed to carry out a major military campaign to crush rebels in all conflict zones of Sudan.
KHARTOUM POSITION ON S. SUDAN CONFLICT ‘BALANCED ’
Karti and Brende also discussed the ongoing conflict in South Sudan with the former describing Khartoum’s stance as "balanced".
The Sudanese official denied that Khartoum is lending support to South Sudanese rebels aligned with the former vice-president Riek Machar.
Karti pointed out that Khartoum provides political support to end the crisis in South Sudan through efforts of the East African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to achieve an agreement between the warring parties.
Brende commended the role played by Sudan in achieving peace and stability in South Sudan, stressing that the problem would only be resolved through IGAD.
On Thursday, the South Sudanese government signed a ceasefire agreement with the rebel in Addis Ababa.
Karti said that the Norwegian minister praised Sudan’s role in all issues at stake and added that the meeting also tackled the role that could be played by Norway in lifting US sanctions on Sudan as well as strengthening cooperation between Sudan and the European Union (EU).
Sudan’s top diplomat described the visit of the Norwegian minister to Sudan as “fruitful”, saying it will help Sudan in receiving political and economic assistance particularly as Norway enjoys distinct relations with Khartoum, Juba and IGAD countries.
Norway’s foreign minister, for his part, said his country maintains distinguished relations with Sudan adding that continued cooperation is evidence of the strong ties between the two countries.
He highlighted his country’s continued support for Sudan, saying they provided $35 million for Darfur states besides other forms of economic and humanitarian assistance.
The Norwegian official further said Sudan is facing major challenges particularly foreign debts, pointing to the role that Norway could play within the EU to resolve the issue.