Reuters Africa

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan on Saturday held their first talks since their countries came close to war in April, raising hopes for a negotiated settlement of oil and border disputes before an August 2 U.N. Security Council deadline.

The face to face encounter between Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir at the Sheraton hotel in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa followed an African Union session in which both men committed to peaceful negotiations over conflict.

The two met for more than an hour at the hotel, first with aides and then for a private one-on-one session of talks.

“The two presidents have agreed and instructed their negotiating teams to expedite negotiations and develop bold decisions in key areas as well as to reach agreements in all issues,” Kiir’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum told reporters.

The neighbours, which made up Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country before South Sudan gained independence last year, face the threat of sanctions from the U.N. Security Council unless they peacefully resolve the border, oil and other security disputes by a deadline of August 2.

The Security Council has already expressed concern over delays in the negotiating process.

South Sudanese rebels fought the government of the largely Muslim, Arabic-speaking north for more than two decades in a bloody civil war that ended with a 2005 peace accord, opening the way for the independence of the South last year. ¬†Read more…