Last Updated: Fri Jun 08, 2012 14:41 pm (KSA) 11:41 am (GMT)

Sudan - South Sudan border talks ‘end without progress’

Talks still ongoing between South Sudan and the north since their independence over a number of unresolved issues, including border demarcation and oil transit fees. (Reuters)
Talks still ongoing between South Sudan and the north since their independence over a number of unresolved issues, including border demarcation and oil transit fees. (Reuters)

Peace talks between Khartoum and Juba to set up a demilitarized buffer zone have ended with Sudan accusing South Sudan of seeking to create “10 disputed areas,” state media reported on Friday.

The defense ministers of Sudan and South Sudan met this week in Addis Ababa to discuss border security, including a cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a demilitarized area along their common frontier.

But the African Union-mediated talks ended on Thursday with the two sides unable to agree on the line from which the safe demilitarized border zone would be drawn, Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein was quoted as saying by the official SUNA news agency.

“The map which South Sudan has adopted, and which it wants to be the basis of the demilitarized buffer zone, is considered hostile, and does not reflect the spirit of friendship or seek to achieve peace between the two sides.”

“Instead (the South) wants to create 10 disputed areas between the two countries, like Abyei,” Hussein said, referring to the contested border region where negotiations are currently deadlocked.

There was no immediate comment from South Sudanese officials.

The AU-led talks are the first between the two sides since they came to the brink of all-out war in April.

Sudan’s Hussein said that during the talks both parties had agreed in principle to cease all hostilities, withdraw their troops from each other’s territory and stop supporting and sheltering rebels.

Sudan was ready to resume negotiations when invited by the AU mediators to return, he said, adding that he expected them to do so in two weeks.

South Sudan split from the north last July following decades of devastating conflict, but the two sides have remained at loggerheads over a number of unresolved issues, including border demarcation and oil transit fees.

The AU-lead talks have been ongoing since independence, but a number of ceasefire agreements -- including a deal to demilitarize border areas -- have been repeatedly violated by both sides.

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