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September 25, 2012

Sudans Making Progress on 3rd Summit Day

Sudan and South Sudan made significant progress on the third day of their summit in the Ethiopian capital, but nothing has been signed yet.
 
President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan and his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, have been negotiating in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, since Sunday.  The third day of negotiations Tuesday finally brought the two countries closer, according to the spokesman for the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, El-Obeid Al-Morawah.

“There is still some obstacles regarding the issue of Abyei and also the issue of 14 miles, [23 kilometers] but there is significant progress happening this time between the two negotiators.  And there is also still hope to reach a positive end maybe tomorrow," said Al-Morawah.

The disputed Abyei region is an oil-rich area that is claimed by both countries.  The two sides also are discussing establishing a demilitarized zone along their border, a so-called "14-mile zone," but that, too, remains a difficult discussion point.
 
A meeting between the two presidents scheduled for Tuesday morning was postponed until early evening.  Al-Morawah says if the Sudans can agree on Abyei and the zone, other outstanding issues will be settled as well.
 
“We may sign not a detailed agreement but we may sign a general agreement regarding the whole economic and political and other issues," he said.

The presidents have had four discussions since Sunday.  The disputed Abyei region was discussed for the first time on Tuesday night.

A United Nations Security Council deadline for an agreement passed last Saturday.  African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki is expected to give the Security Council his report on Thursday.