- Title: SUDAN: Sudan, South Sudan vow to end oil row, but offer no concrete steps.
- Date: 4th July 2013
- Summary: SOUTH KORDOFAN, SUDAN-SOUTH SUDAN BORDER (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF OIL FACILITIES AND DESTROYED PIPELINES IN HIGLEG OILFIELD DURING CROSS BORDER CONFLICT
- Embargoed: 19th July 2013 13:00
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVADBVCKK25FLL77RYSD11M53RS1
- Story Text: Sudan and South Sudan's vice presidents on Monday (July 01) agreed to act on a conflict over Juba's alleged support for rebels that is threatening cross-border oil flows, but didn't offer any concrete solutions.
Last month, bilateral ties hit a new low when Sudan said it would halt South Sudanese oil exports passing through the north for shipment unless Juba ended support for rebels operating across the shared border. South Sudan denies the claims.
To defuse the situation, South Sudan's vice president, Riek Machar, flew to Khartoum for the first high-level meeting since Sudan's threat to close two cross-border pipelines.
After two days of talks between Machar and Sudan's vice president, Ali Osman Taha, both sides said they wanted to implement a raft of deals allowing southern oil exports to pass through Sudan and to secure their disputed border.
Machar said both countries wanted to build up trust to make the agreements made a reality.
"The two sides discussed the issue of the implementation of the cooperation agreement, particularly the security issue that Sudan accused South Sudan of supporting its rebels that led to the decision of Sudan to suspend the agreement between the government of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan on oil and economic matters as of 9th June, 2013 and that Sudan Ministry of Petroleum will shut down processing and transportation facilities in Sudan for oil received from South Sudan during the period of 60 days as from the date of 9th June, 2013," said John Luk Jok, South Sudan's minister of justice.
The two sides did not say whether oil flows would stop. A joint communiquï¿½only said they had agreed not to support rebels on the other's territory, without proposing any steps or referring to Sudan's threat to halt oil flows.
"The two sides agreed on the following: One - referring to the complaints of the two sides to the bilateral joint mechanism agreed upon. Two - affirming their acceptance to the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) proposals over the current crisis, and the two sides call on the African Union (AU), the Chairman of IGAD, and the Ethiopian Prime Minister to expedite the implementation of the AUHIP proposals," said Ambassador Badr Addeen Abdallah, South Sudan's Affairs Director in Sudan's Ministry Of Foreign Affairs.
The neighbours, who fought one of Africa's longest civil wars, ending in 2005, had agreed in March to resume oil flows.
Juba had shut its entire crude production in January 2012 when tensions over pipeline fees and disputed territory escalated.
Abda Al-Mahdi is a political and economical analyst based in Khartoum.
"The big challenge for the implementation of the agreements is the lack of confidence between the two sides. This has always been the obstacle that hinders any agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, and because of that we advise that there should be political reforms before we can enjoy reaping the fruits of the agreements," she said.
Al-Mahdi added that it was important for both governments to ensure peace returns to the region if any meaningful benefits are to be made from the oil wealth.
"The Sudanese government implementation of the agreements should start with the security agreements then the economical aspects. It is Sudan's right to insist in these conditions, but it is also its obligation to consider the interests of the people. The interests of the people are linked to the economical issues between the two countries," said Al-Mahdi.
The latest dispute between the two countries threatens to hit supplies to Asian buyers such as China National Petroleum Corp, India's ONCG Videsh and Malaysia's Petronas, which run the oilfields in both countries.
Diplomats said they doubted Sudan would close the two cross-border export pipelines because its economy has been suffering without South Sudan's pipeline fees.
Oil used to be the main source for Sudan's budget until the south's secession in July 2011, when Khartoum lost 75 percent of its oil production and its status as an oil exporter overnight.
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