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Khartoum launches diplomatic offensive against South’s takeover of Heglig

April 11, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned on Tuesday the heads of diplomatic missions in Khartoum and complained against the “aggression” of neighboring South Sudan on the town of Heglig.

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Sudanese Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Rahma Mohammed Osman speaks during a press conference in Khartoum on April 11, 2012 (GETTY)

South Sudan’s army on Tuesday seized control of the oil-producing town of Heglig in Sudan’s border state of South Kordofan after long clashes with the Sudanese army (SAF). Juba said it attacked Heglig in response to ground and aerial attacks conducted by SAF deep inside South Sudanese territories.

The under-secretary of Sudan’s foreign ministry, Rahmtallah Mohammed Osman, said at a press conference in Khartoum organized with representatives of the diplomatic community at the ministry’s headquarters that South Sudan’s army known as the SPLA had entered Heglig with a force of 3,000 fighters supported by artilleries and tanks.

The Sudanese diplomat said that the assailing force had penetrated 70 km inside his country’s territories, stressing that there is no territorial dispute between Sudan and South Sudan over Heglig. He added that South Sudan’s action had torpedoed all agreements signed between the two countries and Khartoum decided therefore to halt negotiations with Juba.

“I don’t think there could be any negotiations in this climate or it will be like the dialogue of the deaf” he stated. Osman said that his country did not want to go to war with South Sudan but Khartoum has a right to defend the integrity of its territories.

He went on to say that Khartoum is asking members of the international community, especially the countries that were indicating that Sudan is destabilizing South Sudan, to reconsider their positions because South Sudan is the one doing so.

He added that South Sudan’s “blatant” invasion of Heglig was a breach to international law and norms, accusing Juba of seeking to control Sudan’s oil-production site in order to hurt its economy.

According to the Sudanese diplomat, the takeover of Heglig clearly demonstrates the unwillingness of South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir to reach a negotiated settlement on the issues of dispute with Sudan.

Moreover, Osman said that Khartoum had lodged an urgent complaint with the UN Security Council (UNSC) asking it to oblige South Sudan to withdraw immediately from Heglig. He added that a similar complaint was sent to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC).

The ministry official however pointed out that Khartoum will resume efforts towards normal relations with South Sudan as soon as Juba ceases “its acts of aggressions” and harboring of Sudanese rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states on the borders with the south.

(ST)