August 26, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan on Tuesday reiterated its commitment to fully implement the cooperation agreement it signed neigbouring Sudan in September 2012.
- South Sudan’s ex-minister for foreign affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin (ST)
“The position of the government on the cooperation agreement remains clear. We remain fully committed to implement the agreement letter by letter and words by words in the same spirit in which discussed and signed it,” foreign minister affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters in the capital, Juba.
President Salva Kiir, the minister added, clearly informed former South African leader, Thabo Mbeki of his government’s desire to maintain strong ties with Khartoum. Mbeki is the current chair of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) facilitating negotiations between the two Sudans.
Marial also said South Sudan encourages meetings with Sudanese government officials, citing his recent meeting with his counterpart, Ali Ahmed Karti over a range of bilateral matters between the two countries.
“Our relations with Sudan have recorded encouraging steps and have continued to move in the good direction on wide range of issues”, he remarked.
The two foreign ministers are tasked with the coordination and follow-up of the different joint committees between the two countries.
PRAISE FOR SUDAN-SOUTH SUDAN RELATIONS
Meanwhile, Mbeki said he was pleased the two governments had expressed commitments and readiness to implement the agreement.
“We came to meet with the president as well as members of the lead panel dealing with the matter of cooperation agreement between South Sudan and Sudan. We had meetings with the ministers dealing with various elements of cooperation agreement,” said the ex-South African leader.
Mbeki, who was in Khartoum prior to his Juba visit, said the Sudanese government, just like South Sudanese authorities assured, fully committed itself to the implementation of the 2012 agreement.
“So it was peaceful while we were in Juba to look at some details of the cooperation agreement,” he said Tuesday.
According to Mbeki, a meeting of the joint political and security mechanism to look at the matter of safe demilitarised border zones and the challenges at stake would soon be convened by his panel.
“We [will] try to convene the meeting of ministers of interior to deal with question of the implementation of the agreement about the nationals of each country,” said the chair of the AU-led panel.
“So there are number of things like this that we will act upon in consistent with what the governments have said about their commitments to implement the cooperation agreement,” he added.
Juba government recently accused Khartoum of supporting rebels led by Riek Machar. The accuses Juba of supporting rebel groups of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and using some of its factions in the inter South Sudanese conflict.
During the visit AUHIP chair to Khartoum, the Sudanese defence minister Abdel Rahim Hussein stressed that Juba suspended the border monitoring operations since November 2013 and urged to reactivate this joint process aiming to prevent rebel cross-border attacks and to open the crossing corridors.
Marial however said his team was impressed with the level of progress so far made in the implementation of the cooperation agreement.
“For instance, the agreement on oil is being implemented. There are some challenges but it is being implemented. Matters that relate to border, like the disputed areas in the agreement are about how to move with the regard to matter like that,” said Mbeki.
He added, “So there is progress being made and the governments remain committed to implement the agreement and practical steps will be taken to make sure we take this mater forward.”
Mbeki, however, said the contentious issue of Abyei, a disputed oil-producing region, was now in the hands of the two presidents.
“They [presidents] have not forgotten it. But as I said before, we as the panel we are very pleased indeed with the positions taken by both governments of a continuous commitment to those agreements and therefore a commitment to do whatever necessary to implement whatever is outstanding up to now,” he stressed.