Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir welcomes his South Sudan’s counterpart Salva Kiir on his arrival at Khartoum airport yesterday.
KHARTOUM: Sudan and South Sudan averted yesterday a shutdown of economically vital oil flows and again pledged to implement economic and security pacts that have twice failed to take effect.
At the close of a one-day summit with his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir said the South’s oil will continue to move through Sudan for export on the Red Sea.
He pledged commitment to all agreements signed by Khartoum, and “that includes the flow of South Sudanese oil through Sudanese infrastructure” to Sudan’s port on the Red Sea.
In June, Khartoum accused the South of backing rebels on Sudanese soil and abruptly told oil companies they had 60 days to stop transporting the crude.
Khartoum extended the time-limit twice, with the last deadline due to expire this Friday. Crude exports are virtually the only source of foreign revenue for landlocked South Sudan.
Analysts expected Bashir would use the oil issue to try to win concessions from the South on matters including its alleged support for rebels in the north.
Observers say that, despite denials, both governments have aided insurgents on neighbouring soil. “We are not supporting the rebels, and this can be seen in reality,” Kiir said. “We have to close the old chapters and open a new page,” he said. “What we agreed in September has to be the end of all conflict.”
In March, the two countries began implementing nine deals they signed in September last year but had failed to put into effect because of Khartoum’s concerns over border security.
The agreements included a demilitarised buffer zone along the disputed and undemarcated boundary. The pacts also led to a resumption of oil flows from the South, which pays fees to Khartoum for using its pipelines.
Sudan would potentially earn billions of dollars from those payments, while billions more would reach Juba’s treasury from the crude exports.
There was also agreement on the free flow of people and goods across the international frontier. Just as the up-and-down relations between Sudan and South Sudan appeared to be improving, the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance widened its offensive.
Khartoum then froze the nine security and economic pacts in June, and threatened to shut the oil pipelines. “We are now taking new steps,” Bashir told the summit, adding that his country is determined to have good relations. “We respect all the agreements... and are committed to implementing them as one package,” he said.
Kiir, too, said his nation would put all the agreements into effect. Both countries fought border clashes last year which sparked fears of wider conflict. “These two countries cannot always remain on a war footing. If they do that, they cannot offer services to their citizens,” Kiir told a joint session with Bashir and several cabinet members from each side. AFP