Sudan, South Sudan Presidents to Continue Discussions

Sudan and South Sudan’s presidents will continue talks tomorrow in a bid to end more than a year of disputes over oil transit fees and security that brought the neighboring countries to the brink of war in April.

Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir and South Sudan’s leader Salva Kiir were not able to agree on a resolution over the disputed region of Abyei or on the borders of a demilitarized buffer zone, El-Obeid Al-Morawah, a spokesman for Sudan’s Foreign Ministry told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, today.

“There was progress today,” he said. “Only two issues remain, 14 miles and Abyei, and they will continue discussing them tomorrow.”

The meeting between the presidents follows negotiations led by the African Union-appointed mediator, former South African President Thabo Mbeki. A deal would allow South Sudan to resume 350,000 barrels a day in oil production it shut down in January.

South Sudan gained control of about 75 percent of the formerly united country’s 490,000 barrels a day of crude output when it declared independence from Sudan in July 2011. China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd. operate most of the oil wells in the two countries.

Gained Independence

South Sudan gained independence after a referendum based on a 2005 peace accord. The agreement was intended to end a civil war that lasted for almost 50 years -- except for a cease-fire from 1972 to 1983 -- between the Muslim north and the south, where Christianity and traditional religions dominate. About 2 million people died in the second phase of the conflict.

The countries almost resumed their conflict in April as talks in Addis Ababa collapsed. Sudanese fighter jets launched 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.

Concern about a new war has prompted the United Nations Security Council to threaten sanctions against both countries if they don’t resolve all outstanding problems.

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