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Leaders of rival Sudans to hold peace talks

Sudan's Omar Hassan al-Bashir and South Sudan's Salva Kiir set to discuss demilitarised buffer zone and oil exports.
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2013 10:34

The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan are to meet to make another attempt to defuse hostilities after their countries split and with the aim of restarting cross-border oil flows.

Sudan's Omar Hassan al-Bashir and South Sudan's Salva Kiir have both signaled possible concessions at the talks in Addis Ababa to end a stalemate over how to set up a demilitarised buffer zone after the countries came close to war in April.

They signed agreements at a meeting in the Ethiopian capital in September to resume oil exports and secure the volatile border, but sharing deep mistrust after fighting one of Africa's longest civil wars, neither country has implemented the deals.

Both countries badly need the oil exports, for which Juba has to pay Khartoum millions of dollars.

But analysts say they also need the confrontation with the other side to shore up domestic legitimacy and divert attention from their crumbling economies and widespread corruption.

Export fees

Sudan's state news agency SUNA said late on Thursday Bashir would meet Kiir to discuss "speeding up" implementing the September deals.

Kiir said in a speech on New Year's Eve the South was ready to withdraw its troops.

Diplomats remain sceptical of a quick breakthrough because both countries have a history of signing and then not implementing agreements.

Since April's flare up, the worst violence since South Sudan seceded in 2011 after a 2005 peace deal ending the civil war, they have pulled back their armies from the almost 2,000km border, much of which is disputed.

Both sides say such a buffer zone is necessary before oil from the landlocked South can flow through Sudanese territory.

Juba shut down its entire output of 350,000 barrels a year ago after failing to agree on an export fee.

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