London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Khartoum and Juba signed an agreement on Tuesday guaranteeing the export of southern oil through northern pipelines and Port Sudan.
During a meeting with his southern counterpart, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced: “The agreement we signed calls for the transport of South Sudan’s oil through Sudan’s facilities and ports.”
The agreement represents a turnaround by Khartoum which has frequently threatened to close the two export pipelines with the landlocked South Sudan. Bashir had ordered the pipelines closed earlier this year amid accusations that South Sudan was supporting the rebel movement in the North, an allegation that Juba strongly denies. This decision was ultimately delayed and never implemented, but served to further raise tensions between the two Sudans.
The state-run Sudan News Agency reported that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir had agreed to “remove all obstacles” in relations and fully implement cooperation agreements, including the flow of South Sudan’s oil for export through Sudanese pipelines.
Kiir is visiting Khartoum this week as part of efforts to convince Bashir to reverse the order to shut down the two northern pipelines which are vital for Juba’s export of oil.
In a joint statement following the meeting between Bashir and Kiir on Tuesday, the two presidents said discussions went well.
“The discussions were carried out in a positive environment with frankness and a strong political will, which enabled the two sides to reach understandings, paving the way for the implementation of all cooperation agreements signed by the two countries,” the statement said.
Kiir said Khartoum and Juba must “close the old chapters and open a new page,” according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“These two countries cannot always remain on a war footing. If they do that, they cannot offer services to their citizens,” he said.
Kiir also called for the reopening of border trade between Sudan and South Sudan, a move that had previously been agreed but which has yet to be implemented.
South Sudan announced its independence on July 9, 2011, following a controversial referendum in which more than 98 percent of southerners voted in favor of secession. South Sudan took nearly three-quarters of pre-secession Sudan’s oil production.
Tensions between Sudan and South Sudan have been high since the latter’s independence, with Khartoum and Juba in dispute over a number of issues, including rights to the oil-rich Abyei region.