|President al-Bashir labelled any confederation chats as premature at this stage [GALLO/GETTY]
Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has said that speculation about what will take place in the wake of the January referendum on the fate of south Sudan is premature.
Al-Bashir said that the Egyptian proposal for confederation between north and south Sudan was not under consideration at the moment.
He arrived in Qatar over the weekend for talks with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of the Gulf state.
"This issue is not for discussion at the moment because the agreement is about referendum for either unity or separation," al-Bashir said.
"Our brothers in the south are refusing at the moment the proposal of confederation.
"If the separation was the result of the referendum, the two sides are going to negotiate over the future of relations between them."
Plans for the referendum have been dogged by disagreements, in particular on the demarcation of the proposed border between north and south, the status of the disputed Abyei region, and security issues.
Diplomats from the UN and the African Union (AU) have announced that there will be months of "intensive" talks starting with a five-day meeting in Khartoum that began on Sunday, aimed at reaching consensus over the contested oil-rich region of Abyei.
The UN has 10,000 peacekeepers stationed in Sudan, not counting its joint mission with the AU in the western province of Darfur.
Most of the UN troops are in the south and in three former civil war battle ground areas along the border.
More than 2 million people died during the two-decade long war between Sudan's north and south.
The January 9 referendum is part of a 2005 peace deal that ended a two-decade-old civil war in Sudan, which left an estimated two million people dead.