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Sudan, South Sudan Resume Talks

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, left, greets South Sudan's President Salva Kiir at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, July 15, 2012.

Much is at stake in the talks, which have convened and then been suspended several times in recent months.

At odds over oil, territory and other issues left unresolved from their split into two separate nations last summer, Sudan and South Sudan have resumed negotiations aimed at settling the crisis. The two engaged in armed conflict amid escalating border skirmishes in April, but with encouragement from the international community, they are attempting once more to settle their differences at the bargaining table, not on the battlefield. The United States is encouraged by the resumption of talks in Addis Ababa and is following the discussions closely.

Much is at stake in the talks, which have convened and then been suspended several times in recent months. One of the disputes is where to create a demilitarized buffer zone between the two nations. Another is how much South Sudan should pay to export its oil – the major source of government revenues – through Sudanese pipelines. South Sudan shut off its entire production in January after Sudan began taking oil for what it called unpaid export fees. The two nations also face the threat of possible sanctions from the United Nations Security Council unless they resolve all disputes before August 2.

As the talks resume, the United States is encouraged that both sides have sent monitors to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism headquarters in Ethiopia, a key first step in implementing their obligations to demilitarize the border. We urge the two sides to finalize agreement on the demarcation line and to nominate representatives for the committee that will deal with security issues within the demilitarized zone as soon as possible. Furthermore, good faith negotiations are essential to resolve all the outstanding issues between them.

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