April 25, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The foreign minister of Sudan, Ali Karti, said on Wednesday that there will be no going back to negotiations with South Sudan unless security relations are sorted out first.
Karti made his statement following the meeting on Tuesday of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
The AUPSC issued a statement condemning both Khartoum and Juba for mutual media and military hostilities.
It demanded immediate cessation of all military actions, including aerial bombardment carried out by the Sudanese army on South Sudan’s territories as well as unconditional withdrawal of troops to their respective territories, adding that both parties have conveyed their commitment in this regard “within 48 hours.”
The council also demanded, among other things, the resumption of border security talks “within a week” and called on the two parties to cease support of armed groups on both sides of the border.
Karti said in statements reported by SUNA that Sudan welcomes the priority the AUPSC has accorded to security issues.
Sudan’s top diplomat said that Khartoum is willing to talk on security if the government of South Sudan, for its part, demonstrated genuine desire to engage and follow words by actions.
Karti went on to explain what Khartoum expects Juba to do, saying the latter should recant threats to launch a new attack on Sudan and sever its ties with former comrades-in-arms, the SPLM-N, who are fighting the government in Sudan’s border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Sudanese officials frequently indicate their conviction that without a security deal with the south, other points of contention including border demarcation, oil exports and citizenship cannot be solved.
The latest round of talks on security, held in Addis Ababa earlier this month, collapsed after Khartoum withdrew over Juba’s refusal to admit to supporting rebel groups.
A week after the talks failed, South Sudan’s army moved to occupy the oil-producing area of Heglig in response to alleged attacks by the Sudanese army deep inside its territories.
The occupation of Heglig lasted for a week and witnessed the worst escalation of rhetoric between the two sides before Sudan claimed taking it back by force and the south said it withdrew troops in response to international pressure.
Karti said that as long as the security issue remains unsettled and South Sudan continues to attack Sudanese territories and support rebel groups “there will be no negotiations.”
The Sudanese minister also expressed skepticism that South Sudan is genuinely seeking a solution, saying that all evidences including, he said, the takeover of Heglig and recent attacks on Talodi town in South Kordofan, point to the contrary.
Juba strongly denies supporting Sudanese rebels and accuses Khartoum of supporting rebel groups in southern territories.