South Sudan seeks dialogue amid Sudanese border threats

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

By Parach Mach

JUBA, South Sudan (AA) – South Sudan on Tuesday said it was seeking a resolution on the border rows with its neighbor Sudan.

Sudanese government on Sunday threatened to close its border with South Sudan within days if the government in Juba failed to expel rebel groups fighting Khartoum government from its territory.

Kamal Ismail, state minister of foreign affairs, told state-run media that South Sudan had promised to expel insurgencies within 21 days during a visit by First Vice President Taban Deng Gai last month.

Kamal said Khartoum would close the common border and stop humanitarian assistance if South Sudan did not meet this promise.

“Closing border is not in the spirit of cooperation between the two countries, nor does it indicate good neighborliness as far as the cooperation agreement is concerned,” South Sudan’s foreign affairs spokesman ambassador, Mawien Makol Arik, told Anadolu Agency.

“We will resolve the border rows amicably, through dialogue and we can get results because the two countries need each other,” Arik said, adding that Sudan and South Sudan are bound by history and culture and cannot stop being neighbors.

Arik said unresolved post secession between the countries could be resolved in the same way as a 2005 peace agreement was reached or resort to the African Union and the international community.

Last month, the two countries pledged to stop supporting rebels against the other within 21 days to improve bilateral relations.

Relations between Sudan and South Sudan have been shaky since the latter seceded from its northern neighbor on July 2011 after decades of civil war, fueled by ethnic divisions and disputes over oil.

Khartoum and Juba continue to exchange accusations of support to rebel groups from both sides since South Sudan attained independence.

The border, regularly crossed by traders and pastoralists, was closed after the 2011 split and only re-opened last January.

South Sudan slid into chaos two years after gaining independence from Sudan.

The conflict that began in December 2013 as political infighting within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) between president Salva Kiir and ex-rebel leader Riek Machar has killed tens of thousands, displaced 2.4 million from their homes.