The two Sudans must strike an urgent compromise deal to end bitter disputes and resume oil production, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday, warning the newly separated nations they “remain inextricably linked.”
Sudan and South Sudan “will need to compromise to close the remaining gaps between them,” Clinton said, after meeting South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.
“It is urgent that both sides, North and South, follow through and reach timely agreements on all outstanding issues, including oil revenue sharing, security, citizenship and border demarcation,” she added.
Clinton, the most senior US official to visit since South Sudan’s independence last year, highlighted Washington’s concern over the bitter dispute between Juba and Khartoum.
South Sudan’s government has yet to agree on a raft of issues with Sudan, left unresolved after they split in July 2011, including border demarcation and contested areas in oil-rich regions.
Long running African Union-led talks in the Ethiopian capital have so far failed to produce a deal, with Khartoum rejecting Juba’s offers, and demanding that border security must be ensured before any economic accord.
The UN Security Council gave the two countries, which earlier this year came close to a return to all-out war, until August 2 to reach a deal or face sanctions. That deadline elapsed Thursday.
At independence, the land-locked South took with it two thirds of the region’s oil, but the pipelines and processing facilities remained in the North.
In January, Juba cut off all oil production, despite it providing some 98% of the South’s revenue, crippling both economies, after accusing Khartoum of stealing its crude. “You have made your point, you have brought Sudan to the negotiating table,” Clinton said, standing alongside Foreign Minister Nhial Deng Nhial, stressing the importance of getting the oil to start “pumping again.”
Clinton’s 11-day, seven-nation Africa tour is focused on the Obama administration’s new Africa strategy of promoting development by stimulating economic growth, while advancing peace and security and strengthening democracy.