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Africa

Sudan's president orders opening of borders with South Sudan

Latest update : 2012-10-07

Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir ordered the re-opening of borders with neighbouring South Sudan, national radio reported on Sunday after the two countries signed deals on security and cooperation.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday ordered land and river border crossings with South Sudan reopened, official radio said, after agreements signed last month that eased tensions between the neighbours.

Bashir "ordered the opening of all the highway or river gates on the border," Radio Omdurman reported in a brief alert sent by text message. It said Bashir made the request after a meeting with Sudan's new ambassador to South Sudan.

The announcement comes after Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, on September 27 signed deals on security and cooperation that they hailed as ending their countries' conflict.

A 22-year north-south civil war led to a 2005 peace deal and South Sudan's independence in July last year, but tensions over oil and other issues lingered.

The two countries fought along their undemarcated frontier in March and April, sparking fears of wider war and leading to a UN Security Council resolution ordering a ceasefire and the settlement of unresolved issues, under African Union mediation.

In September last year, South Sudan accused Khartoum of closing its trade routes.

"Khartoum has suddenly blocked our borders" from where "we used to get most of our manufactured goods," Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters at the time.

The South's government halted oil production in January after accusing Khartoum of theft in a long-running dispute over how much the impoverished South should pay for sending its oil through northern infrastructure for export.

The deals signed last month included agreements to ensure the resumption of oil exports, as well as progress on a financial package of about $3 billion that Juba offered Khartoum as compensation for Sudan's loss of most of its oil fields when South Sudan separated.

They also reached a key agreement on a demilitarised border buffer zone, where troops must withdraw 10 kilometres (six miles) from the de facto line of control along the undemarcated frontier.

Kiir said the overall agreement with Sudan "brings to an end the long conflict between our two countries," while Bashir said he would "seize the historic opportunity and journey towards building peace."

However, the leaders failed to strike a deal on the flashpoint region of Abyei as well as other contested border areas. Outstanding issues are to be addressed in future rounds of talks, officials have said.

(AFP)

Date created : 2012-10-07

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