New York – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he was ‘encouraged’ by the positive dialogue between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir who is on his first visit to Juba since South Sudan seceded in 2011.
The Secretary-General “is encouraged by their constructive discussions on the implementation of the agreements they signed in Addis Ababa on 27 September 2012 and urges them to maintain this positive momentum,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
The agreements – signed in the Ethiopian capital under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel – included topics on security, the common border and economic relations aimed at enabling the two nations to fulfil their obligations under a so-called roadmap for easing tensions, facilitating the resumption of negotiations on post-secession relations and normalizing the relations between the two countries.
However, armed clashes along the common border have continued and outstanding post-independence issues remain, such as control of the oil-rich Abyei area.
In today’s statement, the Secretary-General commended both Presidents for their decision “to continue their efforts to resolve the Abyei issue in accordance with the implementation matrix,” and also urged the leaders to resolve their differences regarding the area’s final settlement.
The UN interim security force for Abyei (UNISFA) verified last month that troops from both Governments had begun to pull out of the demilitarized border zone. The UN Security Council had established a Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), which consists of both sides and is tasked with monitoring the security situation in the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone.
In addition, Mr. Ban today welcomed the resumption of oil production by South Sudan and its transit and export through Sudan’s oil pipeline “as an important sign of progress towards the normalization of relations between the two parties” following the establishment of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone and the JBVMM.
The world’s youngest country had shut down its oil output last year but agreed to restart oil shipments in March. According to media reports, the first oil cargo is expected to reach Sudan’s Red Sea export terminal in Port Sudan next month.
Meanwhile, staff at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) today paid their respect to national colleagues killed in an ambush by armed assailants on 9 April in Jonglei state.
The 12 people killed included five UN peacekeepers whose bodies were repatriated earlier this week to their hometowns in India. The blue helmets have been praised for fighting courageously to protect the civilian convoy.
Mr. Ban, his special representative in the country, Hilde F. Johnson, and the 15-member UN Security Council strongly condemned the attack and urged the Government of South Sudan to bring the perpetrators to account.