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Sudanese Leaders Move To Ease Border Tensions

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (C) walks with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (3rd L) as he arrives for talks with leaders from Sudan in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, January 4, 2013.

Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan have resumed negotiations.

The Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan have resumed negotiations aimed at resolving the several issues remaining from South Sudan’s creation as an independent state, reaffirming their commitment to set up a demilitarized buffer zone on their share border, resume oil exports, and implement all agreements on trade, economic issues and nationality.

Sudanese Leaders Move To Ease Border Tensions
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In their talks, conducted in Addis Ababa on January 4-5 under the auspices of the African Union, Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, and Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, have reportedly agreed unconditionally to implement a deal first struck in September. Going forward, a timetable will be laid out for implementing all of the outstanding agreements, including immediate action to set up the buffer zone.

Over the last few months, increased tensions led to the delayed implementation of agreements signed in September. The September talks committed the two to take concrete steps to resolve their differences, but they were not followed up. The parties must quickly move from rhetoric to action by implementing the agreements reached in Addis Ababa without further delay.

Sudan and South Sudan recommitting themselves to the peace process is a positive development and could ease tensions in the hard-pressed region. It was unfortunate that progress in implementing the September 27 agreements stalled, particularly the much needed security arrangements at the border.

With a buffer zone plan developed, it must now be implemented. It is also important that the two nations make progress in parallel on other parts of their relationship. The restart of oil production and exportation, shut down by South Sudan for more than a year in a dispute over export fees due its neighbor, will be particularly valuable for both economies and should not be held up by negotiation on other issues. The opening of the border also will bring economic benefit to both countries and should be prioritized. It is important that the two countries move these positive words at the summit into action.

The United States and others in the international community are fully committed to a vision of two viable countries at peace with one another and we stand ready to support them to realize that vision.