South Sudan President Salva Kiir visits Sudan for the first time since independence
He says his government "is ready to discuss and reach final solutions"
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir says new committees will have a timetable
South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July, after years of strife
On his first visit to Khartoum since his fledgling nation declared independence, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir agreed with his Sudanese counterpart to hold talks to “reach final solutions” to address continuing differences between their countries.
“My government is ready to discuss and reach final solutions on all outstanding issues – mainly the economy, security, borders and Abyei status,” Kiir told reporters Sunday.
“We shall work on all these outstanding issues and make sure we sign a final agreement on all of them as soon as possible.”
After years of violent strife and a January referendum paving the way for a new state, South Sudan separated from Sudan in July.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said then that he wanted “brotherly relations” with his new neighbor, though the two countries remain at odds on a host of issues including borders, how to share oil revenues and the status of the disputed oil-rich border district of Abyei.
During the press conference Sunday, al-Bashir elaborated on current efforts to hash out any differences by pointing to committees that have been established by both sides to negotiate.
“It has been agreed on to establish committees with a timetable to reach final solutions,” he said.
The Sudanese Media Center, a semi-official news agency, reported that five such committees had been created. They each have a different focus: external relations, economic issues, higher education, humanitarian affairs, and security and borders.
Tensions between the two countries have risen lately, following conflicts in the border provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile that have spurred fears about a renewed conflict.
Both presidents, however, affirmed their commitment to resolving issues peacefully.
“If we lost unity, then we cannot afford anything less than gaining peace, stability and development,” al-Bashir said in an earlier meeting.
Added Kir, the South Sudanese president, “There may be some elements on both sides that would like to take us back to where we come from – that is war.
“War is not the solution to whatever problems we have. The solution is sitting together and solving the problems.”