August 1, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti told his US counterpart, Hilary Clinton that the main issue with South Sudan is security, the official Sudanese news network, SUNA, reported on Wednesday.
The US Secretary of State, began on Wednesday an 11-day tour of Africa during which she will discuss issues related to peace, security and development. On Thursday she is expected in Juba for talks with the President, Salva Kiir.
State department spokesperson, Patrick Ventrell, on Wednesday, told reporters in Washington that Clinton, during her visit to Juba, will discuss the urgency to reach an agreement with Khartoum in the ongoing process mediated by the African Union in Addis Ababa.
During a telephone call he received from Clinton on Wednesday, Karti reiterated Sudan’s commitment to peaceful coexistence with all of its neighbours, stressing that the problem with the Republic of South Sudan is mainly a security one, the agency reported.
The Sudanese minister, who blamed Juba for supporting rebel movements in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, urged the US top diplomat to press Juba to disengage with the SPLM-N rebels and to stop harbouring Darfur holdout groups.
"In the absence of security there cannot be a permanent agreement between the two countries," he pointed out.
Juba denies any support to the Sudanese rebel groups however, in the past different American officials did ask the South Sudanese president to stop their support for rebel groups.
In Addis Ababa, talks on security issues are stalled as Khartoum continues to refuse an African Union map to operationalise a buffer zone the parties agreed in November 2011. The Sudanese government wants the mediation to establish the demilitarised zone based on the map according to which South Sudan got its independence
Clinton, according to SUNA, reaffirmed the American support to the Addis Ababa talks in order to reach a lasting settlement on the unresolved issues the two countries have been negotiating for the past year.
She further said that during her visit to Juba she will reiterate the American position that urges more seriousness in the discussions. At the same time, she requested Khartoum to engage seriously in the talks.
Washington is seen as the ally of Juba in Khartoum and Sudanese officials say that Juba could not continue to support rebels and take such an intransigent stance with its support.
Also due to the US sanctions on Sudan, Washington has bad relations with Khartoum and any initiative by American officials is suspiciously scrutinised by the Sudanese government.
During her telephone conversation, Clinton also raised the issue of humanitarian access to rebel held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. She urged Karti to allow aid groups to reach these areas.
The Sudanese minister said his government accepts the tripartite initiative and expressed some observations regarding its implementation, stressing that the operation will be allowed once an agreement is reached over this issue.
The mediation suspended the humanitarian track on 25 July as the divergences are much too large between the two sides.
The SPLM-N says it is ready for a one-month ceasefire but asks to distribute the aid from South Sudanese borders. Khartoum sticks to its nine-point agreement with the UN, African Union and Arab League and says only government agreed actors can distribute the aid and stress it should be done from the Sudan.