Sudan and South Sudan poised to sign deal

Deal to allow South Sudan to resume oil exports through Sudan months after dispute over transit fees.

    The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have agreed on a demilitarised buffer zone on the border [Reuters]
    The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have agreed on a demilitarised buffer zone on the border [Reuters]

    Sudan and South Sudan are due to sign an agreement paving the way for the South to resume sale of its oil using the North's pipelines.

    The deal, to be inked in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on Thursday, comes after four days of marathon negotiations between the former civil war foes, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and his Southern counterpart Salva Kiir.

    South Sudan delegation spokesman Atif Kiir said on Wednesday that there is "agreement on some areas" while his Sudanese counterpart Badr el-din Abdullah Badr spoke of "progress on many issues".

    HIGHLIGHTS
      Border security deal will restart badly needed oil exports for both countries
      South Sudan relies on oil for 98 per cent of its income and uses the North's pipelines to export
      Oil exports were halted in January over high transit fees demanded by Sudan
      No agreement yet on the disputed Abyei border region 
      A demilitarised buffer zone at the will be set up 

    While few details were released, spokesmen from both sides said a demilitarised border buffer zone, where troops must withdraw 10km from the de facto line of control along the un-demarcated frontier, had been agreed.

    Economic agreements were also reportedly reached, building on an oil deal last month to ensure South Sudan's stalled production would restart, after a stoppage that had damaged the economies of both nations.

    Al Jazeera's Harriet Martin, reporting from Sudan's capital, Khartoum, called the agreements a "comprehensive deal" and that they followed a UN Security Council demand in May that the two sides resolve the dispute.

    "The issues are wide ranging: They cover economics, they cover trade and they cover, most importantly, oil - turning oil back on," she said.

    "Both sides desperately need the cash, particularly South Sudan. But they [agreements] also apparently cover some of the border issues. Security at the border was one of the key issues that the Sudanese government was very keen to get sorted." 

    South Sudan relies on oil for 98 per cent of its income and stopped exports in January after a dispute with Sudan because there was no agreement over transit fees, said our correspondent.

    She said South Sudan relies on Sudan to get its oil out to markets using the North's pipelines.

    "So much of these negotiations - or the most important part in many respects - was this issue of transit fees and that now seems to have been resumed," our correspondent said.

    No agreement on Abyei

    Though both sides said a deal on the resumption of oil exports would be inked on Thursday, they failed to agree on the contested flashpoint Abyei region or on a series of border zones claimed by both sides.

    In Depth
      Country Profile: Sudan
      Country Profile: South Sudan
      Q&A: The humanitarian crisis in South Sudan
      Reviving the 'New Sudan' vision
      Inside Story: Good neighbours?
      In Depth: Sudan conflict

    "The two countries failed to reach an agreement on two issues: Abyei... [and] the second issue is that of the border," spokesman Kiir told reporters after the talks ended late on Wednesday.

    "The two countries have agreed to have another round of talks... mainly on the issue of the border, on the disputed and unclaimed areas."

    His counterpart Abdullah said that the issues would be addressed in the future.

    "We have overcome many differences... but here are some differences on Abyei," he said, adding that resolving border areas claimed by both sides "is going to take time".

    No dates were given for a potential further round of talks.

    Amid international pressure on both sides to reach a deal, after missing a UN Security Council deadline to settle by last Saturday, their teams spent days trying to narrow positions as mediators shuttled between them.

    The protracted talks under African Union mediation began in the Ethiopian capital several months before South Sudan split in July 2011 from what was Africa's biggest nation, following a referendum after decades of war.

    Meanwhile, a Sudanese warplane droppped six bombs on a market in southern Kordofan on Thursday, killing one person and injuring six others, Ryan Boyette, CEO of Nuba Reports, a community online news service, told Al Jazeera.

    Boyette said the person killed was a woman and that she had seven children, the youngest four months old.

    The bombs were dropped by a Russian-built Antanov, he said.

    "What makes this bombing unique is that it occurred during the market day - it is market day on Thursdays - and people from surrounding villages come [here] to trade," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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