UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has welcomed an agreement between Sudan and South Sudan on several outstanding issues that had threatened the fragile peace between the two neighbors.
The agreements on security, economic relations and border security was signed in Addis Ababa earlier Thursday.
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir meet repeatedly this week in the Ethiopian capital in a last-minute effort to resolve their differences and avoid possible U.N. sanctions.
The U.N. chief commended the two leaders for “choosing peace over war.” But he said it was unfortunate they could not agree on the future status of the disputed territory of Abyei.
“I urge both countries to continue their efforts to resolve this issue through dialogue and avoid any unilateral decisions that would risk a return to violence,” he said.
Ban also expressed his concern over the continuing humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, which have been affected by north-south violence.
In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, blamed Khartoum for the failure to resolve the Abyei question, saying President Bashir had rejected the proposal of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel, which has been acting as mediator.
But he said the two states did sign agreements on oil, boundary demarcation, border issues, banking and trade matters.
The vice president said that if the deal holds, the most significant outstanding issues will have been resolved.
“Diplomacy would have won and reason would have prevailed. With resolution of these key matters, preparations to resume oil production in South Sudan will now begin,” said Teny-Dhurgon.
The south shut down production of its oil wells several months ago after a dispute with Khartoum over transit fees.