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Leaders of South Sudan, Sudan meet in Khartoum

April 5, 2014

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir met Saturday with South Sudan President Salva Kiir to discuss bilateral relations in the wake of a bloody conflict in the south, the official state news agency reported.

After a decades-long fight for independence, South Sudan peacefully broke away from Sudan in 2011. Relations between the two countries have been strained since the split and both countries have suffered from instability and sporadic violence. Kiir’s government in South Sudan recently faced a challenge from forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar. Violence began as a political dispute but has since taken on ethnic dimensions, with tribes attacking each other. The central government in each country blames the other for harboring rebels hostile to them.

The last time the two met was in January when al-Bashir visited Juba soon after the outbreak of violence in the south. The two countries remain bound together by their shared oil industry. South Sudan has most of the region’s oil, but it must pump it through pipelines that run through Sudan. The outbreak of fighting is costing Sudan lost oil revenue.

Al-Bashir said the Saturday visit “has served its purpose” and expressed hope that the coming days would witness full normalization of relations and reopening of common borders between the two countries. He said he and Kiir discussed “cooperation between the two countries for achieving peace and security,” according to the state news agency.

Kiir said that the two had agreed on “mechanisms to implement the agreements” his country had signed. The two sides last year signed a number of deals that addressed issues of border trade, security arrangements and oil sharing accords. They also agreed to avoid hosting any rebel elements fighting the other side. Kiir said he would come back to Khartoum soon for further meetings with other Sudanese officials.

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