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Sudan, South Sudan Talks in Deadlock

March 06, 2012

VOA News

Talks between Sudan and South Sudan broke down in a shouting match late Tuesday, not long after the U.N. demanded the countries take steps to avoid war.

A participant in the talks said that the talks stopped after the sides could not agree on the wording of a draft agreement over citizenship issues. Negotiations are scheduled to continue Wednesday.

Earlier, the U.N. Security Council demanded that Sudan and South Sudan take steps to reduce hostility amid bitter disputes involving oil, and accusations that each side supports the other's rebel groups.

Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of Britain, which holds the rotating Council presidency, said Tuesday the Council is gravely concerned about reports of troop movements and airstrikes along the border.

He urged the countries to respect a non-aggression pact they signed less than a month ago. "The Security Council demands that all parties cease military operations in the border areas and put an end to the cycle of violence," said the ambassador.

The Council also demanded that Sudan and South Sudan "take no action that would undermine the security and stability of the other."

The statement came as Sudan and South Sudan began the scheduled 10 days of talks in Addis Ababa. The African Union is trying to mediate disputes centered on oil revenue sharing, the undemarcated border, and citizenship questions raised by South Sudan's independence in July.

The south took over most Sudanese oil production but is refusing to pay what it considers excessive transit fees to use northern pipelines. The landlocked south needs the pipelines to send the oil to international markets.

The dispute prompted South Sudan to shut down all oil production, a move analysts say is likely to hurt both countries financially.

The sides are also in disagreement over borders of the oil-producing Abyei region, and the status of southerners living in the north.

A previous round of talks last month yielded no progress, except for the non-aggression pact.

When Sudan was a unified country, the north and south fought a bloody 21-year civil war.

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