Sudan-South Sudan Clash Prompts Urgent Mediation Effort

A high-level international team of mediators is gathering in Ethiopia's capital for another try at easing tensions that have brought Sudan and South Sudan to the brink of war. Diplomatic efforts are aimed at salvaging a crucial summit meeting that was canceled in the wake of this week's border clashes.

Senior Sudanese and South Sudanese military officers met in Addis Ababa Thursday to negotiate an end to cross-border hostilities that broke out days earlier at the oil center of Heglig.

African Union diplomats said South Sudan had withdrawn its troops from Heglig after what was described as the worst violence since the south became independent last July.

Heglig is in territory held by Khartoum, and companies there have continued to pump oil even after South Sudan halted its production in January. 

Meanwhile, AU High-Level Panel chief Thabo Mbeki was flying in to the Ethiopian capital for hastily-called ministerial level talks set to begin Saturday.

The venue for the talks had to be shifted because the hotel that hosted previous meetings was already booked.

At a previously scheduled consultations Thursday, senior AU and United Nations officials urged the two countries to put aside seething animosities and work in a spirit of compromise.

U.N. Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous said the international community is losing patience with the intransigence that has characterized the talks.

"The international community cannot stay passive," said Ladsous. "We have been on your side over the years, we remain on your side, but you have to help us help you, because too much is at stake; the future of your two countries, and more than that, the future of the region." 

The latest outbreak of hostilities has prompted cancellation of a scheduled summit meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.  Negotiators see direct talks between the two leaders as the best hope for finding solutions that have evaded lower-level negotiators.

Speaking to VOA, the U.N.'s Ladsous expressed hope that the Bashir-Kiir summit might still be saved.

"We are very concerned that this is a reflection on the total lack of trust between the two parties," Ladsous. "And we would hope that beyond those unfortunate circumstances, it will not jeopardize the proposed summit between the two presidents that is a very important element for the future relationship between Sudan ad South Sudan."

Diplomats say the most critical issue facing negotiators is settlement of their dispute over oil revenues. Talks are currently frozen with production shut down and each side accusing the other of bad faith.

The UK special envoy for Sudan, Michael Ryder, said the impasse must be broken soon, because both sides are in increasingly dire financial condition.

"Neither side can afford this standoff," said Ryder. "The south, in particular is acutely dependent on the oil revenue.  We cannot see frankly how South Sudan can continue to support even the most basic state functions for more than a matter of months if the oil revenue does not return. The people of South Sudan are the ones who are suffering most from this and will continue to suffer unless government revenues are restored."

Officials arriving in Addis Ababa say the oil dispute is still too sensitive for discussion at the talks beginning Saturday. Those meetings will focus mostly on calming tensions, and on the less inflammatory border and nationalities questions.

They say the best they could hope for is a rescheduling of the Bashir-Kiir summit, which had originally been set for April 3.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs