South Sudan peace talks fragile

April 1, 2012 at 7:00 PM
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JUBA, South Sudan, April 1 (UPI) -- South Sudanese officials accused the Sudanese government of refusing to commit to peace between the two nations, amidst bombings in the south.

Khartoum's defense minister failed to appear at a meeting of a Joint Political and Security Mechanism Sunday, a move South Sudan chief negotiator Pagan Amum called a rejection of the African Union-mediated peace process.

Amum also said Sudanese warplanes had bombed the south for seven consecutive days. "Unfortunately, the response of Khartoum is war. They have launched aerial and ground attacks from Monday," he said. "The government of Sudan is the one that is waging war, the head of the JPSM on their side is not here. The meeting was supposed to take place yesterday and he has not appeared."

Defense Ministry officials in Khartoum told the South Sudanese delegation they would have to wait, due to a military incursion from the south, Voice of America reported.

"There is no South Sudanese presence," Amum said. "Not a single South Sudanese soldier on Sudanese soil."

African Union officials say the talks may still be possible, however, they may be delayed a week. South Sudanese Foreign Minister Nhail Deng Nhial said his government is willing to move the meeting place from Juba, South Sudan, to a more neutral site such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nhail said if Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir "feels coming to Juba is objectionable, we have no problem meeting him anywhere else."

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