Sudan and South Sudan have made significant progress towards resolving their border dispute following talks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum with only five areas now subject to further negotiations.
According to the United Nations, the progress made at this week’s talks brought the two countries closer than they have ever been before to reaching sustainable peace.
The meeting was focused on the disputed, arid, oil-rich border territory of Abyei, where the UN Interim Security Force, UNISFA, has helped to monitor an uneasy peace without formal governance, and protect civilians, since 2011, in the weeks before South Sudan became independent from its northern neighbour.
Boundary lines for the ethnically-split rectangle of territory, have not been agreed between the two nations, but both sides agreed to allow UNISFA’s neutral presence when inter-communal fighting erupted in 2011, to help foster a more secure environment, until a final agreement can be reached.
The UN chief of Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said there had been a “continued partnership” between the two, “notwithstanding the recent change of government in Khartoum”, following the overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir, presenting a “unique opportunity to move the political process forward on the border issues.”
Lacroix added that Sudan and South Sudan need to resume direct talks immediately to resolve outstanding provisions of their agreements in relation to the final status of Abyei.