Sudan-S.Sudan border talks end without progress
Peace talks between Khartoum and Juba have ground to a halt after failing to agree on where to set up a demilitarised zone along their contested border, officials said Friday.
The defence ministers of Sudan and South Sudan met this week in Addis Ababa to discuss border security, including a cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a demilitarised area along their common frontier.
But the African Union-mediated talks ended on Thursday with the two sides unable to agree on the line from which the safe demilitarised border zone would be drawn.
"Talks have failed to reach any agreement; two sides have been unable to draw up a demilitarised zone," Deng Alor, South Sudan's minister for cabinet affairs told AFP.
"The map which South Sudan has adopted, and which it wants to be the basis of the demilitarised buffer zone, is considered hostile, and does not reflect the spirit of friendship or seek to achieve peace between the two sides," Sudan's Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein was quoted as saying by the official SUNA news agency.
"Instead (the South) wants to create 10 disputed areas between the two countries, like Abyei," Hussein said, referring to the contested border region where negotiations are currently deadlocked.
The AU-led talks are the first between the two sides since they came to the brink of all-out war in April.
Sudan's Hussein said that during the talks both parties had agreed in principle to cease all hostilities, withdraw their troops from each other's territory and stop supporting and sheltering rebels.
Sudan was ready to resume negotiations when invited by the AU mediators to return, he said, adding that he expected them to do so in two weeks.
South Sudan split from the north last July following decades of devastating conflict, but the two sides have remained at loggerheads over a number of unresolved issues, including border demarcation and oil transit fees.
The AU-led talks have been ongoing since independence, but a number of ceasefire agreements -- including a deal to demilitarise border areas -- have been repeatedly violated by both sides.
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