News / Africa

Sudanese Oil Talks Open Amid Somber Atmosphere

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said tensions with South Sudan over oil transit payments could lead to war between the two countries during an interview with state TV, in Khartoum, February 3, 2012.
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said tensions with South Sudan over oil transit payments could lead to war between the two countries during an interview with state TV, in Khartoum, February 3, 2012.

Sudan and South Sudan have resumed talks on sharing oil revenues that are a key component of both countries' economies. South Sudan shut down production at its oil fields last month, after accusing the Khartoum government of stealing crude that passed through northern pipelines. The talks began in a somber atmosphere.

A member of the South Sudan negotiating team told VOA on Monday the pipeline would remain closed until Sudan accepts southern demands in the two countries' bitter dispute over oil payments. The negotiator spoke on condition of anonymity.

As day three of the six-day session of talks dragged on, the solemn faces of negotiators told the story as they emerged from meetings.

The tone of rhetoric coming from Khartoum and Juba suggests the two sides are far apart. Sudan has accused the South of having a negative attitude toward the talks. Southern officials are holding fast to a series of demands, including payment for $850 million worth of oil they say the north stole from the pipeline.

Sudanese news agencies quoted President Omar al-Bashir as saying the south's decision last month to suspend oil production is “suicidal."  Several analysts have said the same thing, noting the Juba government depends on oil for 97 percent of its income.  

But southern officials reject what they call the “prophets of doom."

The south's acting defense minister, Majak D'Agot, calls the cutoff a “blessing in disguise."

"Despite the hardship and the consequences, it's a blessing in disguise in the sense [South] Sudan has consummated its independence because it is fully assuming control of its natural resources, it's assuming control of its territory, and assuming control of this critical and strategic resource: oil," said D'Agot.

D'Agot says the south is much better able to withstand the oil cutoff than the north. He told VOA the Khartoum government is suffering much more because the north is more oil-dependent than the impoverished south.

"[The] Sudanese economy is fast industrializing. It was much dependent on oil and the need for oil in north Sudan cuts across all sectors of the economy, whereas in South Sudan we know this is an economy trying to emerge out of distress as a result of war and underdevelopment. It is more or less a subsistence-based economy, so the effect of oil or lack of it has not yet been felt by the majority of people in South Sudan," said D'Agot.

The talks are being held under the auspices of the African Union mediating team led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki. The Mbeki panel succeeded in persuading the two sides to sign a non-aggression deal Friday on the first day of the meetings.

But D'Agot, who led his side in the security segment of the talks, said the oil negotiations are much tougher. He said the south will insist that Khartoum admit it was wrong to unilaterally take oil from the pipeline.

"They took an extreme gamble, which was unnecessary. All they need to do is have rational expectations. If they are beginning to entertain rational expectations and not to expect they can take what they don't deserve from South Sudan's oil, then we can reach a deal," said D'Agot.

Despite the hardline positions, the two sides are under extreme pressure to reach a deal that would reopen the pipeline. Negotiators say China, the main consumer of Sudanese oil, is deeply involved in trying to bridge the differences.

U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, arrived Monday to join the negotiations.


You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs