Thabo Mbeki, head of the Africa Union (AU) panel mediating talks between Sudan and South Sudan, is expected to arrive in the former’s capital Khartoum on Friday to hold talks with government officials ahead of what a source described as the “final” round of negotiations between the two countries prior to a presidential summit between Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir Mayradit.
Rival Sudan and South Sudan are due to resume negotiations on post-secession issues in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on 4 September.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) extended until 22 September the three-month deadline it stipulated for the conclusion of the talks after the previous round culminated in a much-welcomed deal to resume South Sudan oil exports via Sudan at an average rate of $10 per barrel plus $3.028 billion in transitional financial assistance to Khartoum over the three-year period of the agreement.
Thabo Mbeki will visit Khartoum on Friday, 31 August, to hold talks with government officials and put forward new conciliatory proposals on the remaining issues which include the establishment of a demilitarized zone along the borders and disputed territories.
Sudanese officials said that Mbeki would hold a meeting with members of Khartoum’s negotiating team and president Omer Al-Bashir in order to explore their views ahead of the next round. Al-Bashir is currently in Iran participating in an international summit due to end on Friday.
A member of Khartoum’s negotiating team who asked not to be named said that the next round will be the “final” and followed by a summit between Omer Al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir Mayardit to focus on resolving the issue of Abyei disputed territory.
The official said their team is planning to issue a press statement explaining Khartoum’s overall view on the outstanding issues prior to the resumption of talks.
The next round was originally scheduled for 26 August but was postponed due to the death of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi which was announced five days before.