12 February 2013

Sudan: Sweden Defends Visit By Sudanese Official, Calls for Ending Conflicts in Border States

Khartoum — The Swedish government believes that ending the conflicts in Sudan's border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan as key to improving the relationship between Khartoum and Juba, its envoy in Khartoum said today.

Sweden's ambassador to Sudan Jan Sadek said in press statements that his government conveyed a clear message to Khartoum in the need for dialogue with the different parties including the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).

Fighting between Sudan's army and SPLM-N rebels broke out in the oil-producing state of South Kordofan in June 2011, shortly before South Sudan became independent.

The violence spread in September 2011 to nearby Blue Nile state which also borders South Sudan. United Nations say that hundreds of thousands have been displaced by the fighting in both states.

Sudan continues to accuse Juba of backing the SPLM-N and is adamant that ending the alleged support is prerequisite to implementing several deals with South Sudan on a number of post-secession issues.

Sadek said that during a recent visit by senior presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie to Sweden they informed him that a peaceful settlement in these two states will help overcome tension with South Sudan and that political dialogue should prevail over military solutions.

The ambassador defended Nafie's visit and noted the criticism his country received criticism for receiving him.

"Nafie is an important political figure in the government of Sudan and we must listen to him and to Khartoum's point of view in issues of concern to the international community" he said.

He said that Nafie's visit could prove the beginning of a stronger relationship between the two countries adding that they discussed a wide range of political, economic and social issues.

But Nafie was also told of Sweden's reservations regarding the situation of human rights, democratic reforms and basic freedoms in Sudan.

Stockholm also expressed unhappiness with the way Swedish organizations working in Sudan are being treated.

Last year Khartoum expelled several aid groups including Save the Children Sweden on the grounds that they "failed in their planned projects".

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