Sudan mediators urge swift end to oil dispute


The United States joined other international mediator surging Khartoum and the new government of South Sudan to quickly resolve a dispute over oil payments that threatens both their economies.

The United States, which along with Britain and Norway formed a “troika” in 2005 to support peace efforts between the two sides, said new proposals tabled in recent talks brokered by the African Union warranted careful consideration.
“We note in particular a detailed proposal by the government of South Sudan that put forth financial contribution to help the government of Sudan reduce its financial gap after South Sudan’s secession,” the three countries said in a joint statement, Reuters reports.
“In light of recent developments, we strongly urge the parties to reconvene as soon as possible, ahead of the agreed December 20 date, to agree on arrangements for the export of oil.”

The two sides have disputed the sharing of oil revenues since South Sudan seceded from the north in July, taking some three-quarters of the formerly united country’s 500,000 barrels per day of oil production.

Oil is vital to both Sudan and South Sudan, but they have not agreed on how much the landlocked South, which must send its oil exports through pipelines in Sudan to a port, should pay in transit fees.

Sudan last week denied it had halted South Sudan’s oil exports in a transit fee row, but said it had confiscated crude shipments to make up for payments it claims South Sudan owes.

China, which has sought to maintain good relations with both countries and is a major customer for Sudanese crude oil, said this week it was dispatching an envoy to join the mediation effort.

The Western countries said both sides needed to immediately implement agreed security and administrative arrangements in the disputed border territory of Abyei, saying that withdrawal of armed forces from the area was a top priority.
“We further call on the parties to refrain from any further destabilizing actions or inflammatory language that might jeopardize the relations between both states, and in that context note with concern the recent and dangerous escalation of military action along the Sudan-South Sudan border,” the statement said.

The two countries have accused each other of supporting rebellions in their territory, leading some analysts to say that they risk reigniting conflict following a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war.