Claims on oil-rich Higlig stall Sudan/South Sudan peace talks

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - Sudan on Wednesday said talks with South Sudan, for the resolution of pending post-secession issues, would be on hold until the south shows it really wants peace, the Sudanese Ministry of Information said in a statement here.

"The talks between the two countries will be on hold until South Sudan proves to have good faith and intention," the statement said, arguing that the Sudanese government entered into the negotiations with good intentions and sincere commitment to renew trust and establish peace.

It stressed that Sudan had high hopes on the recent talks and agreements, as both sides made progress towards good neighborliness, peace and stability until President Salva Kiir Mayardit's inflammatory comments on the oil-rich Higlig area.

According to Sudan: "We were surprised by the actions of South Sudan and their President Salva Kiir Mayardit on the Higlig area which is not one of the disputed border points that were discussed in Addis Ababa last year."

Higlig, where the largest volume of Sudan’s oil reserve sits, is located on the periphery of the Unity State’s border with Southern Kordufan.

Meanwhile Sudan's Petroleum Minister, Dr. Awad Al Jaz, on Wednesday paid a field visit to the Higlig area, which was briefly overrun by Southern Sudan troops, spurring huge popular reactions and putting off a scheduled meeting between President Omar El-Bashir and President Kiir.

"We will not attack anyone but we will never allow any agent to violate our national territories," Dr. Al Jazz said.

Gen Mohamed Atta, Director of Sudan's National Security and Intelligence, has described the attack on the areas and the claims by South Sudan president that they "have recaptured" the area a "deceptive and erroneous" statement" reflecting his ignorance on the border geography.

Gen Atta warned that "Any future improvement in the relations between Sudan and South Sudan and resumption of the negotiations will depend on ending of the tense atmosphere."

Sudan and South Sudan soldiers clashed in Higlig recently, smashing all hopes for a meeting between Bashir and Kiir, set for 3 April in Juba.

However, the US has issued a statement in Washington, saying that both countries should overcome the current crisis and continue their peace talks.

It said "Washington is alarmed by the fighting in Southern Kordufan, Sudan, and along a disputed area of the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Both sides must exert the greatest restraint in this situation."
-0- PANA MO/VAO 28March2012

28 march 2012 16:11:25

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