For the first time since fighting broke out between the neighbors in April, Sudan and South Sudan have returned to the bargaining table in a renewed effort to peacefully resolve border and other issues unresolved in their spilt into separate nations last summer. The United States welcomes the move and urges both parties to negotiate in good faith and comply fully with the roadmap laid down by the African Union to bring the talks to a successful end.
Both countries accuse the other of sending troops into their territory, and of also collaborating with rebel groups and irregular militia forces. The latest clashes escalated a wave of violence that has resulted in almost 140,000 new Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees since independence in July.
The split capped a six-year peace process that ended a long and bitter civil war, but the peace deal left a number of issues unresolved, including disputed border areas, the final political status of the Abyei region, and a comprehensive oil deal that would include transit fees the South would pay for use of Sudanese oil pipelines and ports.
Late last year, Sudan seized Abyei after an attack on a military convoy blamed on South Sudanese troops. On May 30, Sudan announced it was pulling its troops out of the contested region, following an earlier withdrawal by South Sudan. Some police elements from Sudan, however, remain.
Under the AU roadmap and a United Nations Security Council Resolution, full redeployment requires all security personnel to be withdrawn from the area to remove a possible flashpoint for renewed violence. The United States joins with the U.N. in calling on the Sudanese government to honor its commitment to the peace process and withdraw its remaining police force now. U.N. peacekeepers on the scene are adequate to address any security concerns following the troop withdrawal.
The United States has been closely involved in seeking peace and stability in the region and will continue to do so. Our special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, was in Addis Ababa for meetings with the negotiating teams and to urge the parties forward. Only through direct contact and negotiations over fundamental issues of security and borders can the parties avoid further bloodshed, achieve vitally needed economic cooperation and coexist in peace.