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Bashir Ready 'Any Time' to Meet S. Sudan Leader

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is willing to meet his South Sudanese counterpart to help put stalled security and economic agreements into effect, official media said on Wednesday.

Bashir "affirms his readiness to meet Salva Kiir in any time and place to speed up implementation of the Addis Ababa cooperation agreement", the SUNA news agency said in a brief report.

SUNA did not indicate if Bashir's comment stemmed from his meeting earlier Wednesday with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who arrived to bolster peace efforts between Khartoum and Juba.

"The Ethiopian prime minister's visit comes in the context of the Ethiopian endeavors to push ahead the peace process between Sudan and South Sudan," Khartoum's presidential press secretary Emad Sayed Ahmed told SUNA.

Desalegn will travel to South Sudan on Thursday, the news agency reported.

Khartoum and Juba have failed to implement the pivotal agreement they signed in September and hailed as ending conflict between them.

The deals, reached after African Union-led talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, called for a jointly-monitored demilitarized buffer zone and a resumption of South Sudanese oil exports through northern pipelines.

They also allowed for a reopening of border points for general trade, after the two countries fought a war along their undemarcated frontier in March and April.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting an insurgency in its border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which has been a major obstacle to implementing the agreements.

The South, in turn, says Sudan backs rebels on southern territory.

But after the latest round of talks in Addis Ababa this month, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki said "a major step forward" on security had been taken.

Another meeting is planned for January 13.

Separately, Sudan and South Sudan still need to reach a deal on the final status of the flashpoint Abyei region, as well as on other disputed points along the frontier.

The African Union's Peace and Security Council said in mid-December that it was "eagerly" awaiting a mooted summit between Bashir and Kiir "in order to remove bottlenecks on all pending issues" including Abyei and other disputed border areas.

South Sudan separated in July 2011 under a peace agreement that ended a 1983-2005 civil war.

Source: Agence France Presse


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