South Sudan is willing to resume negotiations once Sudan agrees to end hostilities and the United Nations deploys forces for peace-monitoring in seven disputed areas, said the country’s chief negotiator, Pagan Amum.
“South Sudan is ready to return to negotiations with the government of Sudan immediately,” Amum, secretary-general of the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, told reporters today in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. The UN “has to deploy into all contested areas and then the parties need to go to international arbitration,” and a demilitarized buffer zone should also be set up, Amum said.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July last year, the result of a 2005 peace deal that ended two decades of war. New fighting in the ill-defined border region separating the two nations broke out after South Sudanese forces seized control of the oil-rich Heglig region on April 10. The south went on the offensive after coming under aerial bombardment by Sudanese military airplanes on 60 occasions since March and facing ground attacks that were planned in Heglig, Amum said.
The UN Security Council yesterday joined the African Union in calling for South Sudanese forces to withdraw from Heglig and for Sudan to stop the bombings to avert war.
This week’s clashes prompted Sudan to pull out of African- Union sponsored talks over oil revenue-sharing, border demarcation and citizenship rights, and suspend oil production in Heglig, which it lays claim to along with its crude deposits. South Sudan disagrees.
Sudan produces about 60,000 barrels a day of crude from oilfields in Heglig in Southern Kordofan state, about half of the country’s daily production, according to Global Witness, a London-based advocacy group. China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd (PET). and India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd. pump most of the oil in the two countries.
South Sudan assumed control of about three-quarters of the former unified Sudan’s output of 490,000 barrels a day when it seceded, and oil accounts for 90 percent of its revenue. To transport the crude, it relies on a pipeline that runs via the north to Port Sudan’s export terminal on the Red Sea. In January, South Sudan halted oilfield operations and stopped exporting through Sudan amid a dispute over transit fees.
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