June 30, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – South Sudan’s vice-president, Riek Machar, arrived in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Sunday where he met with the president Omer A-Bashir after being welcomed at the airport with the first vice-president Ali Osman Taha.
- Sudan’s Vice President Ali Osman Taha (L) greets his South Sudanese counterpart Riek Machar upon the latter’s arrival at Khartoum ariport on June 30, 2013. (Getty)
Macha’s first visit to Khartoum since the independence of South Sudan aims to defuse the tensions between the two countries after Bashir’s decision to stop the exportation of the South Sudanese oil over accusations of support to rebel groups.
On Sunday Machar, accompanied by five ministers, led the high level South Sudanese delegation to Khartoum to launch dialogue with his counterpart, Ali Osman Taha, and fix the problems that threaten to tear the two neighboring Sudans further apart.
The South Sudanese delegation included ministers of petroleum and mining, Stephen Dhieu, water resources, Paul Mayom, humanitarian affairs, Joseph Lual Achuil, interior deputy minister, Salva Mothok and cabinet affairs acting minister, Wek Mamer.
The delegation was warmly received at the airport by the First Vice President, Ali Osman Taha, and several Sudanese ministers in Khartoum.
Upon arrival the delegation went straight for a joint meeting between the two parties where the two principals, Machar and Taha, gave opening statements, each outlining some of the outstanding issues as well as recommitting themselves to the implementation of the nine cooperation agreements.
They also stressed the need to operationalize the mechanisms provided for in the cooperation agreements and promote direct dialogue with support from the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) chaired by the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki.
- Sudanese president Omer AL-Bashir receives South Sudanese voice-president Riek Machar on 30 June 2013 (ST)
Vice President Riek Machar after the joint meeting with Taha also met with President Omer Al Bashir at the State House where the two leaders also discussed a wide range of issues and the importance of upholding the Cooperation Agreement and promote bilateral relations.
Sudanese minister of information and government spokesperson Ahmed Al-Balal expressed hopes that the talks between the two sides will allow to settle the differences stressing Khartoum readiness to fully cooperate with Juba enhance bilateral relations.
Balal further reaffirmed Sudan was forced to take the decision to suspend oil exportation within 60 days adding that "We are cautiously optimistic" that the visit will settle the issue of support to rebel groups.
Separately Hajo Gassim, deputy speaker of the National Assembly told reporters in Khartoum that latest reports from security service say Juba continue to support the rebels.
He added that South Sudanese recently mediated between the rebel groups to resolve their difference over the chairmanship of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the command of the joint military operations.
Sudan alleges that South Sudan wants to use oil money to fund the rebels and topple down the regime. officials in Khartoum also accuse some circles in Juba of working to undermine the Cooperation Agreement.
Juba denies the charges and counter-accused Khartoum of arming its rebels such as those of David Yau Yau.
Bashir and Machar meeting also discussed the outstanding issues that needed to be addressed in order to achieve stability and good neighborliness between the two ex-foes.
Observers point out the persisting mistrust between the two sides, saying that the unresolved issues of Abyei referendum and border disputed areas impact negatively on the implementation matrix deal signed last March.
However, Khartoum hailed Machar’s visit to the country saying they were ready for dialogue with Juba.