Sudan’s President Umar al-Bashir arrived in South Sudan to discuss improving ties after disputes over oil exports and the countries’ shared border.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir met Bashir and his ministers of defense, foreign affairs and oil today at the airport in Juba, the capital, Suna, Sudan’s state news agency, reported. The leaders agreed in March to create a demilitarized zone on their border and restart shipments from South Sudan’s oil fields via a pipeline to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
Bashir’s visit is meant to “break the barrier of distrust” and “show the political will to implement what was agreed upon,” Sudan’s Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said in the capital, Khartoum, according to Suna. “We are trying to narrow the areas of difference and expand the areas of agreement.”
South Sudan halted production in January 2012 after accusing the northern government of stealing $815 million of its oil, which Sudan said it took to recover unpaid transport and processing fees. That and other disputes, including over border security, brought the countries to the brink of war a year ago.
Before the stoppage, South Sudan produced as much as 350,000 barrels a day. The oil is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd.
It is the first visit by Bashir to South Sudan since he attended celebrations when it seceded in July 2011.