Sudan, Eritrea Announce Political Support for Juba

Photo: Hailemichael Gebrekrstos/UN
During the height of the fighting in Bor, civilians sought refuge at a compound of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

Khartoum — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afewerki announced their political support for the existing government of South Sudan.

Bashir returned to Khartoum on Saturday following a three-day official visit to Eritrea at the invitation of Afewerki.

Sudan's foreign minister Ali Karti, told reporters on Saturday that the two presidents discussed the ongoing conflict in South Sudan given that Eritrea at one point hosted the ex-rebel movement which later took responsibility for the newborn state.

He stressed that discussions on South Sudan's crisis were serious and sincere, pointing out that they aimed at helping the rivals reach common grounds.

Karti further said that stability in South Sudan entails stability in trade, security and economic situation with Sudan.

Clashes erupted in Juba mid-December following a dispute among the presidential guard, rapidly spreading to the country's states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity. Over 1,000 people, according to the United Nations, have died and nearly 200,000 displaced since fighting started in mid-December.

But while South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar over the incident as part of a coup attempt, the latter denies, alleging it was a move by his former boss to silence critics with the SPLM.

The top Sudanese diplomat added that Bashir's visit to Asmara also focused on cooperation between the two countries particularly on the economic front and said the two sides discussed ways for opening the borders and turning them into crossing points for goods and passengers, noting that consultations with authorities of border states are underway.

He further said that discussions also tackled education and health sectors besides roads linking the two countries, adding that the two sides agreed to review a 150 kilometers road inside Eritrean territory which Asmara pledged to build.

Karti also said the Sudanese side committed to completing the electricity line between the two countries, stressing that implementation of the project would begin soon after conclusion of the necessary studies.

He disclosed that Eritrean agencies responsible for carrying out a study on petroleum products' trade with its Sudanese counterpart have been identified, affirming there is no hostility of any sort between the two countries.

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