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Russian envoy in Sudan amid reports about initiative over Abyei issue

November 19, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Russia’s envoy for Africa, Mikhail Margelov, met Monday in Khartoum with Sudanese first vice-president, Ali Osman Taha, amid reports that he brings new proposals to settle Abyei issue.

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Mikhail Margelov (photo Novosti)

Margelov, following a meeting last October with President Omer Al-Bashir, declared that the latter is favourable to the repartition of the contested area between Sudan and South Sudan.

Also, different Sudanese officials said Russia is willing to defend Khartoum’s position at the UN Security Council and accused Washington of pushing for the African Union endorsed proposal, to hold a referendum in Abyei without the participation of the Misseriya nomads, be referred to the 15-member body.

However, the Russian envoy told reporters in Khartoum Monday after his meeting with Taha that they discussed the situations in Syria, Horn of Africa, and bilateral ties between the two countries but avoided mentioning Abyei.

He further said that Russian companies are willing to invest in Sudan in various sectors particularly in mining.

However, it is not clear whether he will meet the Sudanese president as is his usual program when he visits Khartoum.

Khartoum based Al-Sudani newspaper reported on Monday that Margelov will discuss with Bashir proposals aiming to settle the Abyei issue including the option of partition, which has been rejected by South Sudan.

Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said the Russian envoy to the international body is convinced that a solution of Abyei issue should take into account Sudan’s sovereignty and history, but added he has no details about this Russian initiative.

Al-Khair Al-Fahim, the Sudanese Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee met with the Russian Ambassador recently to demand his country’s support to their position should the issue is referred to the Security Council.

Sudan staged recently a series of contacts with the regional and international actors to explain its position on the AU Peace and Security decision saying that the Abyei dispute cannot be resolved by an unilateral decision.

During a meeting held on Friday to renew the UN Interim Force in Abyei (UNISFA) the Pakistani representative urged the Security Council to play a "constructive" and "balanced" role on Abyei issue.

The AU Peace and Security Council on 24 October gave the two parties six weeks to reach a compromise based on the proposition of the mediation. If they fail this proposal will be referred to the Security Council asking it adoption as final and binding.