The U.N. Security Council expressed deep alarm Tuesday at military clashes along the border between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan which it said are threatening to reignite their civil war.
A statement approved by the 15-member council called on both governments to exercise "maximum restraint" and resume talks to peacefully resolve the issues that are fueling mistrust, including sharing oil revenues, citizenship, demarcation of their border, and the future of the disputed oil-rich Abyei border region.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on non-aggression on Feb. 10 following African Union-led talks, but days later South Sudan accused Sudan of bombing the border town of Jau, and since then cross-border violence has escalated. The nonbinding press statement urged both countries to respect "the letter and spirit" of the nonaggression pact.
The Security Council statement cited reports of repeated incidents of cross-border violence "including troop movements, support to proxy forces and aerial bombardments."
The signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 ended a 21-year civil war between Sudan's predominantly ethnic African south and Arab-dominated north. The south voted overwhelmingly for independence and seceded from Sudan last July, but hostilities between the two sides continue. South Sudan this year shut down its oil production _ oil that had to be sent through Sudan's pipelines _ over accusations of theft.
South Sudan on Tuesday accused Sudan of bombing an oil field in its territory near the town of Bentiu.
The attack came one day after Sudan and South Sudan clashed in Jau, prompting Sudan to cancel President Omar al-Bashir's trip to meet with South Sudan President Salva Kiir next week.
Asked about the bombing allegation, Sudan's ambassador to the U.N., Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, said Tuesday that "it is not true" and insisted his government has abided by its agreements with the South.
On the council's call for restraint, he said, "We in the Republic of Sudan have shown immense self-restraint" and continue to be willing to try to resolve differences with the South through negotiations. But he said if Sudanese territory is violated, "our armed forces are ready to defend every inch of our territory."
Associated Press Writer Eileen Powell contributed to this report