Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced that South Sudan’s oil exports will continue to flow through his country’s pipelines.
His decision was announced on Wednesday (03.09.2013) after meeting with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in the Sudanese capital city of Khartoum.
The announcement eases concerns after al-Bashir had ordered the pipelines closed earlier this year and accused South Sudan of supporting rebel movements in his country. The decision, though, had been delayed and was never implemented.
Salva Kiir’s visit to Khartoum was aimed at reversing the order to close the pipelines, which would have choked South Sudan’s ability to export its oil.
Crude oil exports are virtually the only source of foreign revenue for landlocked South Sudan. It gets 98 percent of its revenues from oil, has huge reserves, but is reliant on Sudan’s ports for export.
Kiir cordially welcomed
On arrival in Khartoum for the one-day visit, Kiir was given a red carpet reception and inspected a guard of honor accompanied by his host, al-Bashir. The two heads of state later held talks that were described as convivial.
In a joint statement after their meeting, the two presidents said discussions went well.
“The discussions were carried out in a positive environment with frankness and a strong political will, which enabled the two sides to reach understandings, paving the way for the implementation of all cooperation agreements signed by the two countries,” the statement said.
The two presidents agreed to “remove all obstacles” in relations and fully implement cooperation agreements, including the flow of South Sudan’s oil for export through Sudanese pipelines
But speaking to DW, Magdi el-Gizouli, an analyst and member of the Rift Valley Institute that works together with communities and institutions in East Africa thinks there is more to the reception that Salva Kiir received in Khartoum.
“These are not cordial relations but rather a tactical improvement,” said el-Gizouli “for the time being they need each other.”
“The economic situation in both countries is dire, and the sharing of oil revenue is the most logical thing for the two leaders,” el-Gizouli noted.
The two sides are still in dispute over a number of issues including rights to the oil-rich Abyei region, which they vowed to address through continuous dialogue according to the joint statement.
However for analysts like el-Gizouli, this could be another one of those commitments that could take time to materialise due to the intricacies involved in the border demarcation.
“They might be willing to sort out the Abyei issue but they could even choose to slow it down to avoid friction,” he added.
During the visit Salva Kiir reiterated his commitment to further engage Sudan on issues of mutual interest and benefit.
“We have to close the old chapters and open a new page,” he said. “What we agreed in September has to be the end of all conflict.”
In March, the two countries began implementing nine deals they signed in September last year but had failed to put them into effect.
The agreements included the demilitarization of the buffer zone along the disputed and un-demarcated boundary.
“We are now taking new steps and are determined to have good relations” said Bashir “we respect all the agreements and are committed to implementing them as one package.”
Kiir, last visited Khartoum in October 2011, a few months after his country split from Sudan under a peace deal which ended a 23-year civil war.