Sudan and South Sudan yesterday averted a shutdown of economically vital oil flows and again pledged to implement economic and security pacts that have twice failed to take effect.
At the close of a meeting with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir, Omar al-Bashir said the South’s oil will continue to flow through Sudan for export via the Red Sea.
He pledged commitment to all agreements signed by Khartoum, and “that includes the flow of South Sudanese oil through Sudanese infrastructure” to Sudan’s port.
In June, Khartoum accused Juba of backing rebels on Sudanese soil and abruptly told oil companies they had 60 days to stop transporting crude oil from South Sudan.
Khartoum extended the time-limit twice, with the latest deadline due to expire Friday.
Crude oil exports are virtually the only source of foreign revenue for landlocked South Sudan. Analysts expected Bashir would use the oil issue to try to win concessions from the South on matters, including alleged support for rebels in the north.
In March, the two countries began implementing nine deals they signed in September, last year. The agreements included a demilitarised buffer zone along the disputed and undemarcated boundary.
The pacts also led to a resumption of oil flows from the South, which pays fees to Khartoum for using its pipelines.
There was also agreement on the free flow of people and goods across the borders.
Just as the up-and-down relations between Sudan and South Sudan appeared to be improving, the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance widened its offensive aimed at toppling the al-Bashir regime.
Khartoum then froze the nine security and economic pacts in June, and threatened to shut the oil pipelines.
“We are now taking new steps,” al-Bashir said. “We respect all the agreements and are committed to implementing them as a package.”
In a joint statement at the close of their talks they pledged to build that administration quickly “to pave the way for the presidents to decide the final status of the Abyei area”.