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Addis Ababa continues to be the most suitable venue for discussion aimed at the normalization of relations between the two Sudans.
Foreign ministers from the two countries have met in Addis Ababa to discuss the outstanding points of disagreement between them and their bilateral relations with Ethiopia last week. The Sudanese foreign minister has also discussed border demarcation issues between Ethiopia and Sudan with his Ethiopian counterpart.
“We have discussed the situation in Sudan, normalizing the border between Sudan and South Sudan, and also between Sudan and Ethiopia. We have exchanged views on how [we] can work on the remaining issues in talks with South Sudan. We will put our best foot forward to finalize the agreement between Sudan and South Sudan regarding the remaining issues,” said Ali Ahmed Karti, the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, right after holding talks with the Ethiopian Acting Foreign Minister, Ambassador Birhane Gebrekristos, last Tuesday.
In what is termed as a historic moment for the horn of Africa, the two Sudan’s signed a comprehensive peace agreement in Addis Ababa last September, at the Sheraton Hotel. The two sides have been negotiating, with mediation from the African Union High-level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AU-HIP), over outstanding issues including security, post-secession, and cooperation among others.
Even though last September’s agreement did not outline any concrete steps, it said each party had the right to ask oil firms to install additional metering systems. The neighbors also agreed to set up a committee, headed by an African Union-appointed official, to review payments and technical issues to avoid disputes.
The presidents of the two Sudans signed the cooperative protocol agreement on post-secession matters after five days of negotiations in Addis Ababa late last month. By then, both sides were under pressure from the United Nations Security Council to resolve the outstanding issues or face sanctions.
“We have discussed a number of issues with the [Acting] Foreign Minister of Ethiopia related to the process of normalizing relations between the Republics of Sudan and South Sudan. Ethiopia is the chair of Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which has an important role to play in terms of helping to resolve differences between the two countries who recently concluded a series of agreements. There are two outstanding issues that need to be resolved and they are largely territorial in nature. We have got the issue of Abyei whose final political status is to be resolved. We also have other areas along our common border that are in dispute,” said Nyhal Deng, Foreign Minister of South Sudan, who talked with his Ethiopian counterpart last Tuesday afternoon.
“We have actually discussed how the process of moving toward a resolution of this outstanding issue can be further bolstered, and what role Ethiopia can play directly and in its capacity as chair of IGAD,” added Deng.
The September agreement is believed to help maintain peace, encourage trade, widen the spirit of neighborliness and facilitate the free movement of people across borders.
“We are sure that without the help of Ethiopia, we couldn’t have achieved all that. Without question, the negotiation between Sudan and South Sudan [came to fruition] with IGAD and Ethiopia, with the spirit of reconciliation coming from this neighborly and sisterly country,” said the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Both nations failed to agree on how much South Sudan should pay Sudan in compensation for taking over oil facilities once owned by the state firm Sudapet. Sudan demands 1.8 billion USD for Sudapet’s assets, while the south is not willing to pay such an amount, according to reports.
Dar Petroleum, the oil company operating in South Sudan, is expected to begin oil production in South Sudan as soon as possible following a security deal signed with Sudan.
South Sudan gained control of about 75 percent of the formerly united country’s 490,000 barrels a day of crude oil output, when it declared independence from Sudan in July 2011; however, South Sudan’s oil is pumped through pipes owned by Sudan. The usage of pipes and oil refinery facility triggered a sense of mistrust among them. South Sudan accused Sudan of taking South’s oil in lieu of unpaid fees for the use of its export and processing facilities. When tensions increased, The South shut down its industry, costing both sides hundreds of millions in lost revenue