Sudan's Bashir plans first visit to South Sudan since secession

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will visit South Sudan on Friday for the first time since its secession, his spokesman said, fostering ties between the former enemies after last month’s deals on oil and border security.

The neighboring nations agreed in March to resume cross-border oil flows and defuse tensions that have plagued them since South Sudan’s independence in July 2011 following an agreement which ended decades of civil war.

They still have not agreed who owns Abyei and other regions.

Bashir had planned to visit Juba a year ago but canceled the trip when fighting between the countries’ armies last April along their disputed border brought them close to war.

He plans a day of talks with southern counterpart Salva Kiir, Bashir’s spokesman Imad Said told Reuters on Tuesday.

South Sudan’s secession left unresolved a long list of disputes over territory and how much the landlocked south should pay to transport its oil through Sudan.

Juba shut down its entire oil output of 350,000 barrels a day in January last year at the height of the dispute over pipeline fees – a closure that had a devastating effect on both struggling economies.

Under the new deals, both sides agreed to restart the oil flow, grant each others’ citizens residency, boost border trade and encourage close cooperation between their central banks.

They also withdrew their troops from their shared border as agreed in a deal brokered by the African Union in September.

Bashir last visited Juba on July 9, 2011 to attend the ceremony marking South Sudan’s separation.

About two million died in the war that was fuelled by divisions over religion, oil, ethnicity and ideology and was ended in 2005 with a deal that paved the way for secession.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for masterminding war crimes in the western Darfur region, accusations his government dismisses as a Western conspiracy against Sudan. South Sudan is not an ICC signatory.

Source: Reuters

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