Sudan, South Sudan sign agreements to demilitarize borders, resumes oil shipment
Both African nations have agreed to pull back soldiers from border
Establishing a demilitarized zone along the border has been a major sticking point between Sudan and South Sudan. Both nations have now promised to pull their soldiers back six miles from the border.
In addition, an economic settlement deals with issues such as pensions, banking, national debt and trade matters. Both nations also reached agreement on the status of each country's nationals on the other's territory.
Oil production can now resume under the agreements, as the sides have agreed on transit fees the south will pay to use northern pipelines. South Sudan shut down its oil production in January after disputes over fees, affecting the economy of both countries detrimentally.
The issue of Abyei and the borders remain unresolved. In an example that the two countries have miles to go before resuming normal relations, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan blamed Sudan for not reaching an agreement.
"As for Abyei, it is very unfortunate that we could not agree. My government and I accepted unconditionally the proposal of the AU-HIP, to the resolution of the conflict in Abyei," Kiir said.
"Unfortunately, my brother Bashir and his government totally rejected the proposal in its totality. It is not the responsibility of the AU-HIP to refer the matter to the AU Peace and Security Council."
African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki, the chairman of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, says that he is confident that the two countries will solve the outstanding issues easily,
"The parties have agreed on a process to continue to engage with each other on the matter of the disputed and claimed border areas," Mbeki says. "They will engage, they will continue to negotiate this matter and it shouldn't be difficult to solve this particular matter."
More talks are required, but it will take time before the two countries will meet again. "There is going to be this team of African experts, they are going to handle this, the five disputed areas issue, and according to the agreement they may take about three months to resolve that situation," Ambassador Bedredin Abdella of the Sudanese delegation says.
"And after that they are going to give a written opinion to the two sides of the facilitators regarding to their opinion, which is non-binding."
South Sudan and Sudan split up in 2011 under a 2005 peace agreement. South Sudan gained about 70 percent of the oil production. An all-out war between the two nations was waged in April of this year.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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