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Sudan, South Sudan Presidents Hold One-on-One Meeting

Sudan’s President Umar al-Bashir and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir held talks after African leaders called on them to resolve issues stemming from the split of the two nations about a year ago.

The two leaders met today on the sidelines of an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, as they sought a “comprehensive agreement on all issues,” said Pagan Amum, South Sudan’s chief negotiator in the peace talks.

“They are talking about peace,” Amum said in an interview in the city today.

Sudan and South Sudan’s presidents told African leaders they are committed to resolving disputes over issues including oil fees and borders before an Aug. 2 deadline, Haile Menkerios, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s special envoy, said in an earlier interview.

“The two presidents reconfirmed they are ready to comply with the African Union’s Peace and Security Council road map and security council resolution,” he said following a meeting of the organ. “I would hope to believe that the two, consistent with what they’ve declared, will meet their commitments.”

Since the south’s secession a year ago, African Union-mediated talks between the two countries have failed to yield an agreement on oil and other issues, including the rights of citizens of both countries on either side of the border and the status of the disputed territory of Abyei and other contested border regions.

Brink of War

The countries came to the brink of war in April after the talks collapsed. Sudanese fighter jets launched air strikes inside South Sudanese territory, while the Southern army occupied and then withdrew from Heglig, a contested area that accounts for half of Sudan’s oil output.

South Sudan shut down its 350,000 barrels a day of oil production after it accused Bashir’s government of stealing $815 million worth of crude. Sudan said it was confiscated to pay unpaid transportation fees.

On May 2, the UN Security Council expressed its intention to impose sanctions if the countries failed to resolve disputes within three months.

“I think that would be left for PSC and UNSC to decide at that time, but so far they’ve been making progress,” Menkerios said.

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