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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid