WASHINGTON, April 29 (UPI) -- Comments made on South Sudan's independence by the Sudanese president aren't very helpful, a U.S. State Department official said.
A comprehensive peace agreement reached in 2005 gave southern Sudan the right to vote to form an independent state. Voters in January backed a referendum for independence, though the de facto region of Abyei was left out of the process because of voter issues.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir broke earlier promises Thursday by saying he wouldn't recognize "the new state (South Sudan)" if the disputed territory of Abyei broke away from the north.
Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said resolving outstanding issues like Abyei must be completed before South Sudan's independence day July 9.
"Those comments are not helpful at all, and they only serve to inflame and heighten tensions," he was quoted by Voice of America as saying. "It is important that both sides -- those in Khartoum and those in Juba -- focus intensely on trying to resolve the key issues that have not been completed under the CPA."
Internal conflicts and border skirmishes in southern Sudan are threatening to unravel the peace deal. The U.N. World Food Program said it had to cut food aid to southern Sudan because of the violence.