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Sudan Tribune

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South Sudan “promises” to consider expulsion of Darfur rebels

January 15, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – South Sudan has promised Khartoum to consider expelling members of Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) from its territories, according to a senior Sudanese diplomat.

Members of Darfur rebel group (JEM)
Members of Darfur rebel group (JEM)
Juba has previously denied the presence of JEM in its territories after the Sudanese government complained in December last year to the the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that members of the rebel group from Sudan’s western region had crossed the new international border into South Sudan.

Khartoum urged the UNSC to pressure South Sudan to refrain from providing any form of support to the rebels and expel them from its territories.

The promise to take Khartoum’s expulsion request into consideration were made during the ongoing visit of a Southern diplomatic delegation to Khartoum, according Salah Wansi, Sudan’s state minister for foreign affairs.

Wansi said on Sunday following talks between the South Sudanese diplomats and Sudanese officials, that South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir “understands” Khartoum’s request for expulsion of Darfur rebels.

“In the talks they [Southern diplomats] asserted their desire to play a positive role and that they are not directly supporting Darfur groups,” Wansi told reporters.

The South Sudanese delegation, led by deputy minister for international cooperation Elias Nyamlel Wako, is on a five-day visit to Khartoum where it has already held talks with vice-president Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and foreign minister Ali Karti.

Karti on Sunday described the visit as the real beginning of an impetus to overcome the current situation between the two neighbouring countries.

The already tense relations between Khartoum and Juba have sunk deeper in recent weeks due to a stalemate over the fees landlocked South Sudan should pay for the use of Sudan’s pipeline infrastructure to export its oil.

The recently separated countries are due to resume talks on the oil issue in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday.

Sudan’s top diplomat said he hopes the visit of the South Sudanese delegation would serve as a point from which other issues can be addressed. Karti emphasised the importance of transforming political dialogue into an objective dialogue on issues of economic cooperation.

On the other hand, the leader of the southern delegation, Elias Nyamlel Wako, denied his government’s knowledge of any presence of Darfur rebels in South Sudan.

He went on to affirm that the arena of diplomacy would not be affected by tension on the border areas. “What is happening between the two countries will not stop the continuation of building prosperous diplomatic relations” he said.

Sudan Tribune has learned that South Sudanese diplomats had quizzed their Sudanese counterparts on allegations that South Sudanese citizens in Khartoum were being abducted and forced to be recruits of southern rebel groups.

The southern diplomats also raised concerns that Khartoum was supporting rebel groups in South Sudan.

South Sudan accuses Khartoum of supporting rebel groups in its territories, a charge Sudan denies.

Last week Khartoum named Mutrif Sidiq, a former state minister for international cooperation, to serve as Sudan’s ambassador in Juba.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July last year as per a vote granted under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war between the two sides.