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Ethiopian refugees at the Setit River, that runs between the Tigray region and neighbouring Sudan (Reuters/file photo)September 8, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese officials and the visiting Head of UN Peacekeeping operations discussed the situation in Abyei and ways to move forward towards a solution to the disputed area within the rapprochement between the two Sudans.

Jean Pierre Lacroix on Tuesday discussed with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and Head of Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan the replacement of the Ethiopian troops by other forces and the role of UNISFA in the border area.

Lacroix has to submit a report about UNISFA to the Security Council by 30 September 2021. This report should include an assessment of the improved relations between Sudan and South Sudan and recommendations for reconfiguration of the Force and establish a viable exit strategy from Abyei.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with al-Burhan, Lacroix said the meeting was "very productive" and reiterated the UN commitment to support the transition in Sudan.

"We further discussed the situation in Abyei and the way in which the UN could continue supporting the people of Abyei, South Sudan and Sudan in their efforts to find a political solution for Abyei," he added.

He added that the discussion included how UNISFA can continue its role, and how the UNISFA tasks can be adapted to the new situation.

Before arriving in Khartoum, the UN senior official was in Addis Ababa where he discussed with Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops.

Earlier this year, Sudan requested the replacement of Ethiopian troops from Abyei with a multinational force due to the Ethiopian claim of the al-Fashaga border area and stalled negotiations over the GERD.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi said Lacroix welcomed the formation of a Sudanese-South Sudanese high-level committee to address the situation in Abyei.

Al-Mahdi added this Agreement on the Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area of 20 June 2011.

Also, al-Burhan told Lacroix that Sudan expects UN support for the transition and the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement, she added.

In a separate statement, the cabinet of the prime minister said that Hamdok and Lacroix discussed the steps undertaken to replace the Ethiopian troops working in the UNICEF.

The visiting international official "confirmed that the United Nations has begun searching for troops from several countries that meet the required specifications," said the cabinet.

Last week, Sudan welcomed the participation of Bangladesh troops in the UNISFA.

The French diplomat will travel to Juba for similar talks with the South Sudanese government officials over Abyei and UNISFA.

(ST)

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