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Sudan, South Sudan sign much-awaited oil deal

Latest update : 2012-09-28

The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan signed a deal Thursday to allow badly needed oil exports to resume following a dispute over transit fees, but they failed to resolve the other conflicts that arose when Africa’s largest country split last year.

Sudan and South Sudan on Thursday signed a series of deals to secure their border and boost trade, a move that will restart badly needed oil exports.

The agreement, reached after three weeks of negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will allow South Sudan to resume pumping oil through its northern neighbour and provide both countries with much-needed cash.

Landlocked South Sudan halted oil production in January 2012 after disputes with Khartoum over transit fees in a dispute that spilled over into border fighting in April, the worst violence since the two countries split after decades of civil war.

The deal did not settle the fate of five oil-producing regions on the still unmarked border which saw most of the fighting earlier in the year.

Under the agreement, reached after four days of talks between Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kir, a 10km deep demilitarised buffer zone will be created along the frontier.

The package will ensure the newly separated nations "will thrive and become two viable states," African Union official Barney Afako said at the start of the signing ceremony.

While oil production resumes, Sudan and South Sudan still face lengthy negotiations over their disputed border regions as well as their internal conflicts and insurgencies.

African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki has so far failed in indirect talks with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North), allied with rebels in the western Darfur region, which is fighting Sudanese troops in two areas bordering South Sudan.

According to diplomats, each side supports rebels on the other side, with South Sudan last weekend accusing its northern neighbour of airdropping weapons to a militia fighting the government. Sudan denied this.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2012-09-27

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