Sudanese Leaders Agree to Set up Demilitarized Border Zone
KHARTOUM, January 6 (RIA Novosti) - The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan agreed to set up a demilitarized buffer zone on the border between the two states during Saturday's talks in Ethiopia, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki said.
Presidents Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Salva Kiir of South Sudan "agreed to take soonest steps to implement all agreements unconditionally," Mbeki said.
The two leaders made no comments after the talks.
Tensions on the border between the two states intensified shortly after South Sudan gained independence in a referendum in 2011. Sudan lost 75 percent of its known oil reserves after South Sudan became an independent state.
Al-Bashir and Kiir agreed last September to end violence in border districts and withdraw troops from disputed regions in order to resume oil extraction in South Sudan and its transit via the Sudanese territory. The agreement has never been put into practice, however.
By the end of 2012, oil extraction was suspended at South Sudanese deposits as Khartoum refused to transport oil for export via its pipeline network, demanding Juba to crack down on militant groups operating in border territories.
South Sudanese authorities, in their turn, accused Sudan of shelling the country's territory and supporting rebels fighting with government troops.
In late December South Sudanese army downed a UN helicopter with Russian crew onboard after it mistook it for a Sudanese aircraft violating its airspace.
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