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Sudans want faster solution to oil row

02 July 2013, 12:30

Khartoum - African nations should accelerate a proposal for helping Sudan and South Sudan break the deadlock threatening oil flows worth billions of dollars to both economies, the two countries said late on Monday.

The call followed two days of talks held in Khartoum between South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar accompanied by members of the South's cabinet, and their counterparts in Sudan.

African Union officials have said their top negotiator Thabo Mbeki made "urgent proposals" to both sides after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on June 8 abruptly ordered the pipeline carrying South Sudanese oil for export closed.

Bashir acted after warning the South's government in Juba over backing rebels in the north.

South Sudan denies supporting cross-border insurgents and in turn has accused Khartoum of helping rebels on southern territory.

A careful pipeline shutdown requires several weeks to avoid damaging the infrastructure, giving diplomats time to try resolving the deadlock.

The AU proposal would have it and another regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa (IGAD), investigate the allegations of rebel support, an analyst has said.

In a statement, Sudan and South Sudan confirm their acceptance of the AU plan "and call on the African Union and the chairperson of IGAD the prime minister of Ethiopia" to put it into action immediately.

Dispute-resolution mechanism

Sudan and South Sudan also said they would implement a dispute-resolution mechanism already agreed upon in April.

South Sudan became independent two years ago with most of the formerly united Sudan's 470 000 barrels per day of oil production: but the pipelines and the Red Sea export terminal remained in the north.

The Juba government halted its crude production early last year in a dispute over how much it should pay Khartoum to use the export infrastructure.

In March, the two countries reached detailed timetables to implement a deal for the oil fees and several other issues, including a demilitarised buffer zone designed to cut cross-border rebel support. 

Juba then resumed pumping oil which flowed slowly towards Port Sudan where stocks built up for export.

Analysts say Bashir ordered the pipeline shut after rebel attacks humiliated the Sudanese authorities.




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