News

    Hope for Progress Dims in Sudan Border Talks

    A senior Sudanese negotiator said he sees little hope for progress in talks with South Sudan on contentious issues left over from the two countries' separation last July. Mediators in Addis Ababa are measuring progress in millimeters.

    Former Sudanese Central Bank governor Sabir Mohamed al Hassan was blunt Friday when asked whether he thinks the current session of African Union-mediated talks might yield forward movement. "Personally, no. I don't think so. I'm not really optimistic," he said.

    One track of the talks focuses on oil. The landlocked south must use the north's pipelines to send its oil abroad. But a dispute over transit fees prompted the south to shut down production, costing both sides hundreds of million dollars per month in income.  

    Hassan, Khartoum's lead negotiator in the oil talks, said it would be a victory if the two sides could simply agree to talk in a spirit of compromise.

    "That the two parties sit down and negotiate in good faith, negotiate with the objective of reaching a compromise," Hassan said. "That the two parties move forward to meet each other, not each party standing on its position."

    Pagan Amum, Chief Negotiator of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (L), listens to remarks by Stephen Dhieu Dau, Minister of Petroleum and Mining in South Sudan, at Paloich Airport in Melut, South Sudan, February 21, 2012
    Pagan Amum, Chief Negotiator of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (L), listens to remarks by Stephen Dhieu Dau, Minister of Petroleum and Mining in South Sudan, at Paloich Airport in Melut, South Sudan, February 21, 2012

    Speaking to VOA earlier in the week, South Sudan's chief negotiator Pagan Amum indicated the oil talks are hopelessly deadlocked. The Khartoum side is asking for a package of charges totaling $36 a barrel, while the delegation from Juba is offering a flat rate of 69 cents.

    Amum said Sudan can take the south's offer or leave it. "The figures for transit fee is 69 cents. If they don't, there will be no deal, he said."

    Diplomats following the talks say the atmosphere had been frigid since this 10-day negotiating session began with a shouting match over the sensitive issue of nationalities - specifically, the fate of southerners in the north, and northerners in the south.

    A member of the African Union mediation team urged patience, noting that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the Sudanese civil war took four years to negotiate.

    The main sticking point in the nationalities track of the talks is the fate of 35,000 women and children the south says were abducted by the north during the long civil war.  Briefing VOA on condition of anonymity, a senior South Sudan official said any agreement must refer to these people as “abductees."

    Khartoum flatly rejects such a characterization. Northern negotiator Hassan blames the south for adopting an uncompromising position when it would be easy to refer the matter to a high-level commission.

    "I don't know how to say it, but the way, the approach, was not constructive," Hassan said. "We said, let us set up the committee, give it the power to look into the situation of all nationalities, without exception, but they insisted, no."

    Analysts watching the talks say breaking the deadlock is critical because of the degree to which both sides financially depend on oil. The south in particular has no other significant source of foreign revenue.

    The nationalities issue is considered equally critical. With the south's independence looming last year and no solution in sight, the two sides agreed to allow another six months for a settlement. Those six months are up April 8. After that date, hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the border could become illegal aliens in their own homes.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
    Middle East Voices
    . Follow our Middle East reports on
    Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: hamad part 2 of 3
    March 10, 2012 1:33 AM
    suffering from high Gas prices , why ?I do not want to talk about contamination of those drilling because Americans have been traded without compensations , why ? North Sudan has learnt business of wars from somebody else . Wars have become lucrative bargains even US budget can not afford . How could you protect temporary pipeline in Africa , if you have been disable to protect your borders ? Stop dreaming too much and you should deal with

    by: hamad part 3 of 3
    March 09, 2012 10:30 AM
    have been staffs in oil or gas companies who should follow the business of their bosses around the world . The reputation of UN has been ruined brutally under the management of Ban Ki moon .

    by: hamad part 2 of 3
    March 09, 2012 10:29 AM
    high Gas prices , why ?I do not want to talk about contamination of those drilling because Americans have been traded without compensations , why ? North Sudan has learnt business of wars from somebody else . Wars have become lucrative bargains even US budget can not afford . How could you protect temporary pipeline in Africa , if you have been disable to protect your borders ? Stop dreaming too much and you should deal with the reality . UN members give us impressions that they

    by: hamad part 1 of 3
    March 09, 2012 10:29 AM
    North Sudan can not relinquish its merits of oil opposite nothing . South Sudan independence has occurred because they have been seeking for oil resources not for protecting Christians or Africans as they claimed . They have exploiting Christians to fill their banks accounts and irritate their greed . Christian Americans oil and gas have been exported to China and other countries whereas Obama has issues thousand licenses of explorations while Christian Americans have been suffering from

    by: lou innocent judith
    March 09, 2012 9:03 AM
    To,south soudanese 2 be creativity , de arab ae like toilet papers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora