14 January 2013

Sudan's Bashir to Visit Juba Next Week - Sources

Khartoum — Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir will visit Juba next week where he will hold talks with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir over post-secession issues before an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The two presidents met several times in the Ethiopian capital, but Bashir did not travel to Juba since the independence of the South Sudan.

Al-Bashir said ready to visit Juba but his travel was linked to progress in the contentious files between the two countries. Last November, he was expected in Juba after the finalization of technical steps to implement the security arrangements deal but failure of the talks led to postpone his visit.

President Bashir will travel to Juba on 21 January to meet President Kiir before the AU summit scheduled on 24 January, reliable sources said on Monday.

The discussions between the two leaders will focus on the final status of Abyei, security issues and oil, the source further said stressing that preparations are taking place in Juba to receive Al-Bashir in his first visit after the independence.

The sources said Bashir wants to to reach a compromise with Kiir before the African Union summit in order to seal a comprehensive deal over all the disputed issues.

Besides the security issue and Khartoum accusations that Juba support the rebel groups in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, the final statue of Abyei seems the most urgent topic requiring a quick settlement.

The AU Peace and Security Council (AUSPC) endorsed a proposal to hold a referendum in the disputed area in October 2013 but Khartoum rejects it.

Sudan foreign minister said they do not expect that the AUPSC would refer the proposal to the UN Security Council.

But, the move pushed the Misseriya nomads to decide to settle in Abyei while Juba warned that such decision may mean a return to war between the two sides.

Delegations from the two countries are now holding talks in Addis Ababa on the level of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) where the parties agreed on the seven members of the local administration but they still diverge on the legislative council.

Also, the joint political security committee is discussing ways to monitor the disputed areas on the common border as Khartoum says the two sides must control jointly the Blue Nile and South Kordofan boundary with South Sudan.

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