11 October 2012

Sudan: Khartoum, Juba Vow to Boost Economic Cooperation As Rebels Call to Isolate Sudan

Photo: Tim McKulka/ UN Photo
Leaders of Sudan rebel groups (file photo).

Khartoum — Sudan and South Sudan pledged, in a first international economic forum after their cooperation deals, to work together to develop their economies , but the Sudanese rebels criticized this meeting.

"Sudan & Europe: Prospects of Cooperation for Regional Peace and Development" is the title of a three day international conference that started Wednesday in Vienna and will conclude its work to Friday 12 October.

The conference which is attended by delegates from various countries and international organizations was opened by Michael Spindelegger , Austria's vice-chancellor and foreign minister, Ali Ahmed Karti Sudan's foreign minister and Garang Diing Akuong, South Sudanese minister of commerce, industry and investment.

Karti, in his remarks, stressed Sudan's commitment to lasting peace with South Sudan to realise development and called to support sustainable development saying it would contribute to establish a solid peace in the region.

The Sudanese minister appreciated the Austrian initiative saying it is a new starting point for relations between Europe and Sudan. He further called on the EU to play a positive role and to contribute to Sudan's development.

He further pointed out to the deterioration of relations with Germany after the recent attack against its embassy in Khartoum in a protest over anti Islam cartoons. He however said optimist about the improvement of bilateral ties and the organisation of an investment conference that Berlin called off after the violent demonstration.

South Sudanese minister Garang Akuong, also stressed on the need for a sustainable peace to achieve development and reiterated Juba's commitment for a lasting peace and to cooperate with Sudan for the welfare of the two countries.

Elias Nyamlel Wako, South Sudan's deputy minister for international cooperation said the shutdown of oil production earlier this year did not benefit to both countries. He added that "Without our economy improving, the economy of Sudan will not improve."

For his part, Austrian Foreign Minister Spindelegger reaffirmed that the two countries need to meet the challenges facing their efforts for a lasting peace, and to create a political climate favourable to attract investors and to develop both countries.

Last March, Norway and Turkey had cancelled a similar investment conference following pressures from Washington which aimed to force Khartoum government to allow humanitarian access to the rebel controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

On 9 October, a Sudanese minister and head of supreme investment council, Mustafa Osman Ismail announced that Ankara resumed contacts to prepare the international economic meeting after the signing of nine cooperation agreements between Sudan and South Sudan on 27 September .

SPLM-N CRITICISES THE CONFERENCE

Yasir Arman, secretary general of Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N), released a statement deploring that such meeting take place while the government continues to prevent humanitarian access to civilians in the rebel held areas.

He said that holding such meeting is "regrettable" in view of gross human rights violations, genocide, and war crimes." He also mentioned that different Sudanese officials, including president Omer Al-Bashir are indicted by the war crimes tribunal.

The rebel figure described as "shocking" the presence of representatives of European Union, UN and the Austrian foreign minister with the Sudanese foreign minister in "Vienna, one of the great capitals of Europe".

"We call upon the Austrians, in particular, and the European activists who believe in the cause of democracy and the respect of human rights to denounce this conference," he said; adding "This has nothing to do with European democratic values."

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