Sudanese parties discuss withdrawal of troops from Abyei area
The leaders of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, and South Sudan, Salva Kiir are to hold talks on the disputed border region of Abyei for a second day Monday, with news reports saying a deal may be within reach, DPA reported.
President al-Bashir is said to have agreed to pull out all northern troops from Abyei, which they invaded last month, Voice of America reported.
The talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa are being moderated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.
Mbeki said the two Sudanese leaders were discussing an "integrated package," which includes a withdrawal of all armed forces from the region, the administration of Abyei, the possible deployment of Ethiopian peacekeepers and political and security mechanisms.
Both parties were determined and understood the urgency of the matter, Mbeki said. South Sudan is to declare formal independence from the north on July 9.
South Sudan's people voted overwhelmingly in a referendum in January to split from Sudan. But the 2005 peace agreement that allowed the referendum left unclear the fate of the oil-rich border region of Abyei.
On May 21 northern troops moved into the region, drawing condemnation from the United Nations and United States. The region has often been a battleground, especially during a 20-year civil war that ended in 2005, either over its oil holdings or between rival groups of nomads fighting over grazing rights.
Two weeks ago North and South Sudan agreed on a demilitarised zone along their border to be jointly patrolled.