Tensions between north and south flared after northern forces occupied the fertile Abyei region on May 21 [AFP]

Diplomats say Sudan's leader has agreed to pull its troops out of the disputed Abyei border region before July 9.

Tensions between Khartoum and south Sudan flared after northern forces occupied the fertile Abyei region on May 21. The north has refused calls from the US, the UN and southern officials to withdraw.

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, "has agreed to pull his troops out before July 9, with Ethiopia sending two battalions as peacekeepers. They will be deployed under the UN flag", one diplomat, who asked not to be named, said.

South Sudan is due to secede on July 9, but the split with north Sudan has been complicated by unresolved questions such as how to share oil revenues and the exact position of the common border.

Fighting has also continued for nearly a week between the northern army and south-aligned armed groups in the northern oil state of Southern Kordofan, which borders the south.

Southerners voted to secede in a January referendum, the culmination of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war.

Source: Agencies