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China Urges Sudan, South Sudan to Resolve Oil Dispute

Drilling tubing is piled next to the drilling site number 102 in the Unity oil field, South Sudan (2010 file photo).

China has called on Sudan and South Sudan to resolve a dispute that has blocked the flow of oil exports from the south.

Beijing purchases nearly five percent of its total oil imports from South Sudan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Tuesday urged the two Sudans to exercise "restraint" and use a "flexible and pragmatic approach" to settle their differences.

Landlocked South Sudan relies on its northern neighbor's pipelines and port on the Red Sea to export oil.

Sudan said it halted South Sudan's oil exports because the newly independent south owes $730 million in transit fees.

South Sudan has said Khartoum is charging transit and customs fees so high they amount to "economic war."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin expressed confidence the two Sudans would resolve the matter and keep their oil delivery commitments.

"For many years, China's oil enterprise has been doing businesses in North and South Sudan, according to relevant contracts, and have played an important role in its local economy and social development," said Liu. "China maintains a good relationship with North and South Sudan, and we believe both governments will keep their promises, ensure stability and continuity in the oil industry, protect the legal rights of the Chinese enterprises, and protect workers' safety.''

Liu said China has a good relationship with both countries.

South Sudan took control of about 75 percent of Sudanese oil when it became independent July 9.

The two countries still are negotiating terms for sharing oil revenues. They also have not resolved which side will control the oil-rich Abyei region on the border.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.