South Sudan and Sudan Presidents Continue Talks in Ethiopia

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South Sudan president photo

Presidents of South Sudan and Sudan

South Sudan and Sudan’s presidents ended Sunday evening a first round of talks without announcing a deal as they are expected to meet again on Monday for further discussions mainly on disputed areas including Abyei and security arrangements.

Presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir held Sunday a first meeting late during the evening after reports saying the discussions will start on Monday. They were in a close-door meeting for three hours, together with the top negotiators of the two sides, Pagan Amum and Idriss Abdel Gadir.

At the end of the meeting, the two leaders did not make any comment to the reporters waiting outside the meeting room in the hotel as they took the lift together to their rooms.

Earlier, Sudan’s defence minister Abdel Rahim Hussein announced that his government accepted to include Mile 14 in the buffer zone but put some conditions.

The spokesperson of the Sudanese negotiating team Badr El-Din Abdalla, pointed out that Khartoum wants first some security and administrative arrangements over Mile 14.

Sudan says Mile 14, which is a grazing land located between Western Bahr El-Ghazal state in South Sudan and East Darfur in Sudan, is a Sudanese land and figure in the maps of Sudan since 1924 as part of Darfur region.

The meeting between Kiir and Bashir was initially convened to discuss the proposal the African Union mediation submitted to the two parties over Abyei.

The mediation, in the proposal, supports the idea that only the few permanent residents of the Misseriya nomads can only participate in the referendum . This proposition opens again the door for the long past quarrels on how to determine a permanent resident. Khartoum demands six months and Juba speaks about three years.

South Sudanese cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor told reporters that a deal might be reached on Monday but did not give further details

But Badr El-Din stressed that the two parties continue to disagree on the security issues but confirmed that there is an agreement over other issues.

In Khartoum, Sudanese vice-president and head of political sector at the National Congress Party, Haj Adam Youssef, reiterated that Juba has to demobilise and disarm its soldiers -SPLM-North fighters- in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and to cease any support to the Sudanese rebel group.

He further renewed the position of the ruling party rejecting any South Sudanese claim on the ownership of the contested area of Mile14, calling on Juba to show flexibility and determination to agree on the remaining issues and to achieve peace and stability in the relations between the two countries.

He pointed out that Khartoum is committed to fully implement the remaining issues in the 2005 peace deal related to the Two Areas and the referendum of Abyei Area. H also underlined the need to establish the interim administration in the contested area as agreed in June 2011.

The mediation in its proposal over Abyei Area said a referendum should be held in October 2013, but before asked to establish an administration that Juba refused in the past because the NCP refused to appoint a Ngok Dinka as speaker of the regional legislative assembly.