x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Sudan and South Sudan resume oil talks

Sudan and South Sudan have resumed talks to resolve outstanding disputes over oil, border demarcation, security and the Abyei region.

ADDIS ABABA // Sudan and South Sudan resumed talks yesterday in the Ethiopian capital to resolve outstanding disputes over oil, border demarcation, security and the Abyei region, negotiators said.

"Oil and economic-related issues, border issues [and] Abyei, these are the issues that are on the agenda," South Sudan's minister for cabinet affairs, Deng Alor, said.

Sudan and South Sudan fought along their undemarcated frontier in March and April, sparking fears of wider war and leading to a UN Security Council resolution which ordered a ceasefire.

It also ordered the settlement of unresolved issues, under African Union (AU) mediation. In August those talks led to a breakthrough deal on export fees landlocked Juba will pay Khartoum to ship its oil through northern pipelines.

Talks kicked off last night, with Mr Alor meeting the Sudanese negotiator, Idriss Mohammed Abdel Qadir, and the AU chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki.

However, Mr Alor said the details of the oil deal need to be finalised, along with reaching an agreement on the flashpoint Abyei region, demarcating contested frontier regions and setting up a demilitarised border buffer zone.

South Sudan took with it at independence two thirds of the region's oil, though processing and export facilities remained in the north.

In January the South shut off oil production, damaging the economies of both countries, after accusing Sudan of stealing its oil.

Last month, both sides agreed on a US$9.48 per barrel export fee, but Mr Alor said finalising the oil deal and resuming production is critical for both sides.

Mr Qadir said he was optimistic both sides will resolve a deal on all unresolved issues by the new cut- off date of September 22.