Presidents Of Sudan And South Sudan Finally Meet


The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan have met for the first time since a border dispute brought their countries close to conflict in April.

Omar al-Bashir sat down with Salva Kiir on the sidelines of an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital.  South Sudan became independent from the north a year ago, and numerous issues remain unresolved between the two countries.

A United Nations deadline for them to settle the dispute is set for 2 August.  Among other issues, their border has not been finalised and there are disagreements over oilfields, transport payments and divisions of the national debt.

Deadline looming No information has been released about what the two men spoke about during their meeting in Addis Ababa, but they shook hands publicly for the first time at the end of it.  The last official talks between Presidents Kiir and Bashir were at the previous AU summit in January.

At this summit, AU delegates urged the governments in Khartoum and Juba to settle their differences on oil and border demarcation before the UN's deadline.  The UN introduced its three-month deadline after cross-border clashes centred on the oil-rich region of Heglig brought Sudan and South Sudan close to all-out war in April.

South Sudan's independence from Sudan in July 2011 was supposed to herald the end of more than 50 years of bitter conflict between the two, but tensions have lingered.  Saturday's meeting between the two leaders is unlikely to yield any immediate results, but it at least shows the two countries are feeling the pressure to resolve their dispute.