Khartoum Willing to Settle Differences (22/05/2012)
African Union (AU) mediator, former President Thabo Mbeki, said the Sudanese government is willing to settle its differences with South Sudan through dialogue, provided that the security issue is set as its top priority. Mbeki, acting as head of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, held talks in Khartoum with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as part of the AU's efforts to persuade Sudan and South Sudan governments to resume negotiations on their unresolved issues. Mbeki said Sudan is also committed to the creation of a demilitarized zone aimed at separating the two armies along the 1956 border as well as to launch joint efforts to verify the border. He further reiterated the AU's keenness to facilitate the two sides' talks to ensure they will produce agreements that can bring about peace and security. Also, Abrahim Ghandour, Secretary of External Relations of the ruling National Congress Party, for his part, reiterated Khartoum' s insistence to set the security issue as the top priority of its talks with South Sudan. Mbeki on Thursday started his visit to Khartoum in a bid to persuade Sudanese officials to resume negotiations with their South Sudanese counterparts. Mbeki is scheduled to visit Juba today to meet South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit on the details of the negotiations, which is expected to be held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The AU mediator is scheduled to return to Khartoum on Tuesday to complete his consultations.