World Bulletin / News Desk
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 Aug. 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 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.
In April, the countries' two armies were on the point of returning to all-out war when they clashed over the disputed border oil area of Heglig.
But Saturday's meeting between Bashir and Kiir appeared to have cleared the way for the two sides to bury their enmity and strike a deal over how to share revenues from oil produced in South Sudan which must pass through pipelines located in the north to be exported.
South Sudan shut down in January its oil output of 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) - two thirds of which was produced by the old unified Sudan before Juba's independence - in a move that has badly strained the oil-dependent economies of both states.
Earlier, before African heads of state at the AU Council session, the two presidents had pledged themselves to a "new spirit of strategic partnership", the AU's Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters.
He added this included a commitment "never again to have recourse to force to resolve their differences".
But at the earlier gathering at AU headquarters, the two leaders had not shaken hands or held direct talks.
Norway's Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Endre Stiansen, said he welcomed the active participation of the African Union in encouraging the two Sudans to keep talking.
"We are getting to the end of the (U.N. Security Council) deadline and so it is essential that pressure is maintained on the parties," he told Reuters in Addis Ababa.
Stiansen said he hoped the two sides could settle their differences over the position of their border, how much the landlocked South should pay to transport its oil through Sudan, and the division of national debt, before Aug 2.
"There is nothing new on the table now. If they want to move, they can move," he said.
Austria has filed a complaint at the European Court of Justice against EU-granted state subsidies for a new nuclear power plant in Britain.
A new US trained police force will replace the previously corrupt police force to enforce new reforms.
Romania has now taken a six-month leadership role of Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation
ISIL has reportedly advanced into Baiji and have captured a number of neighbourhoods in the city.
The ruling party has accused the UN mediator of meeting only with the opposition.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has requested a conversation with Greek prime minister and Greek energy minister
The passing of new asylum rules has given Hungary the legal framework for the erection of a border fence to stop the flow of asylum seekers.
After 61pc voted 'no' in the Greece referendum, the reactions of the world leaders continue.
Britain is ready to hold a number of memorial services marking the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica
Top euro zone shares fell 1.7 percent in early trading on Monday after Greek voters rejected austerity measures
An U.N expert on foreign debt, says reporters the creditors should have paid more attention to what international law says on the matter of debt.
30 naval vessels, 1700 military from Nato countries, join Bulgaria’s Breeze 2015 exercise in Black Sea
An Iraqi plane through a technical fault has dropped bombs on Baghdad killing at least 7
Interior ministers of Serbia, Austria and Hungary have signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of border protection.
The Indian Prime Minister will visit Central Asian countries will be focused on energy and mining projects.
Chief negotiator with Greece's European creditors in the bailout talks will become a new Finance Minister