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Cautious optimism for Sudanese talks

Jan. 4, 2013 at 12:17 PM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Talks Friday in Ethiopia between South Sudanese and Sudanese leaders provide the best chance for resolving lingering issues, an African official said.

Sudanese President Omar Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, met Friday in Addis Ababa to address lingering security challenges that have overshadowed South Sudan's independence in 2011.

Chairwoman of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying talks in Addis Ababa "will enable the two presidents to agree on the best means and ways of overcoming the challenges encountered" in agreements reached last year.

Both sides have agreed to set up demilitarized border zones, though implementation has proved challenging. The independent Sudan Tribune reports the South Sudanese government complained to the U.N. Security Council about Sudanese attacks on the border state of Western Bahr el Ghaza this week.

A 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's civil war paved the way to South Sudan's independence. Border conflicts, ethnic fighting and disputes over oil have threatened the peace, however.

A joint statement from British Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.S. Secretary of Defense Hillary Clinton called on both Sudanese leaders to ensure their armed forces remain at bay.

"We remind the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan that the international community is fully committed to a vision of two viable countries at peace with one another and that we stand ready to support them in realizing that vision," the statement read.

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