World Bulletin / News Desk
Leaders of Sudan and South Sudan met on late Sunday to try reach a deal to end hostilities and restart oil exports but there was still no breakthrough on a key security accord after two weeks of talks in Ethiopia, officials said.
South Sudan said it expected Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his southern counterpart, Salva Kiir, to reach an deal on Monday, after a U.N. Security Council deadline was unofficially extended.
The armies of both nations fought for weeks in April along the unmarked and disputed border after a row escalated over how much South Sudan should pay to use northern oil pipelines.
South Sudan's cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor said Kiir and Bashir would reach an agreement by Monday.
"Tomorrow we will be finished. There will be a deal," he told reporters after the summit started, giving no details.
The two will meet again on Monday morning, offficials said.
Badr el-Din Abdallah, spokesman for the Sudanese delegation, earlier said there were still differences: "We have agreed on many topics but there are still issues for which we don't have a deal yet, specifically the security issue."
The two countries had to reach a comprehensive peace deal by the weekend or risk incurring U.N. Security Council sanctions.
The U.N. deadline formally expired at midnight on Saturday, but the parties effectively have until the end of the African Union-led summit to reach an agreement.
Diplomats have been trying to mediate between the rivals, which have a history of signing and then not implementing deals. Both badly need the oil revenues at stake.
The two reached an interim deal in August to restart oil exports from landlocked South Sudan through Sudan to its Red Sea ports after Juba turned off wells in a row over export fees.
Sudan wants first to reach a security accord.
On Saturday, Sudan raised hopes of a deal by conditionally accepting an AU map for a demilitarized border zone after objecting to it for months, but Abdallah said on Sunday the issue had not yet been resolved.
Bashir first met Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Sunday and then like Kiir, spent much of the day with his delegation.
"The points are on the table. We are quite hopeful and optimistic that things will move forward," Ethiopia's State Foreign Minister Berhane Gebrekristos said after Bashir met Desalegn.