World Bulletin/News Desk
South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Benjamin said Thursday that he expected his government to soon reach a final peace deal with rebels loyal to sacked vice-president Riek Machar.
"There is big progress in the talks with the armed opposition. We reached an agreement on some bones of contention and we will reach a peace deal soon with the support of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and friendly nations," Benjamin told a press conference held in Khartoum.
Benjamin, who arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday, hailed his visit to Sudan as "successful," expressing appreciation to the Sudanese government for opening Sudan's borders to South Sudanese refugees fleeing the conflict back home.
Full-blown conflict erupted in the young nation on December 15 of last year, which President Salva Kiir at the time had been quick to portray as a "coup attempt" by Machar and his supporters.
In the one year since, the conflict between the two warring rivals has claimed tens of thousands of lives, displaced nearly two million people, and left about four million people facing food insecurity, according to humanitarian agencies.
In recent months, the warring camps have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of IGAD, an East Africa regional grouping based in Djibouti.
At Thursday's presser, Benjamin said he had met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, to whom, he said, he had delivered a message from Kiir regarding means of boosting bilateral relations.
Officials from both countries have also agreed to hold a security meeting later this month to discuss recent accusations by both states that the other was abetting anti-government rebels.
On December 21, South Sudan's Foreign Ministry summoned the Sudanese ambassador to protest statements by Sudan's intelligence chief, Mohamed Atta.
Atta recently threatened to pursue Sudanese rebels into South Sudanese territory while accusing Juba of funding rebel groups.
South Sudan has repeatedly denied such accusations in the past.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 in line with a 2005 peace treaty that ended Africa's longest-ever civil war.
Since 2011, a number of rebel groups have waged an active insurgency against the Khartoum government, particularly in the southern and western parts of Sudan.
Last Mod: 02 Ocak 2015, 11:45