KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 20 (UPI) -- South Sudan's president said Friday he was ordering his troops to start leaving a contested border region amid growing international concern.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern this week about escalating tensions between Sudan and South Sudan.
Sudan this week voted on a resolution declaring South Sudan "an enemy" after its forces seized control of Heglig in disputed territory along their shared border.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir said that Heglig was an "integral part" of South Sudan but called on his forces to withdraw, The Washington Post reports.
"An orderly withdrawal will commence immediately and shall be completed within three days," he was quoted as saying.
U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman told reporters via teleconference from Khartoum that he talked with Sudanese and South Sudanese officials about the crisis. He said the situation was "very, very serious" but added he had assurances that neither side was interested in war.
"Now, that doesn't mean this is going to be easy. It's not going to be easy," he said. "Emotions are running very, very high."
South Sudan gained independence in July as part of a comprehensive peace agreement signed in 2005. That deal ended a brutal civil war though the peace is fragile.
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