The United Nations Security Council deadline for the two Sudans to reach a comprehensive agreement or face possible sanctions expired at midnight, with no deal in sight. Sudan claims though they’ve made little progress at talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it wants good relations with South Sudan.
“I am always hopeful. [In] the remaining three hours, I hope that we will witness the signing of an agreement between the two countries because we are keen to have good and normal relations with South Sudan,” said Rahmatallah Osman, undersecretary in Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Osman said he believed the two parties had failed to reach a final agreement because each side wants to “achieve the maximum.”
Speaking from Khartoum, Karti told VOA's South Sudan in Focus that his government wants to resolve security issues first, before anything else is addressed. Osman said resolving border issues with South Sudan would build the confidence needed to tackle other problems.
On Thursday, Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti also told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that mutual security is the main obstacle in negotiations with South Sudan. Karti accused Juba of supporting rebel movements in Sudan, especially in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
But Jennifer Christian, a Sudan analyst for the U.S.-based advocacy group the Enough Project, says Khartoum’s emphasis on security is misleading.
“Of course, any sovereign state has a legitimate concern when another country is allegedly supporting rebel elements within that state. But the fact remains that these conflicts were started by the government of Sudan and are marked by the government of Sudan’s targeting its own civilians, and I think that gets lost in this rhetoric of security concerns,” Christian said.
Christian would rather emphasize the plight of civilians in the area. Refugees interviewed by the Enough Project said they have been unable to plant crops because they’re afraid of Sudan’s aerial bombardments.
And with most of the roads to the area closed, they have little access to outside food, either. As a result, tens of thousands of people are fleeing to the South Sudanese border, where the World Food Program says the situation has now reached emergency levels.