S.Sudan says it repels Sudan attack before talks

AP News
Posted: May 28, 2012 12:16 PM
S.Sudan says it repels Sudan attack before talks

South Sudan said Monday it has repelled attacks by Sudan along its disputed north-south border only one day before the two countries are to resume negotiations over oil wealth sharing and defining their shared border.

South Sudan military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said its Western Bahr-el-Ghazal, Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal and Unity states experienced three days of bombardment by Sudan.

Aguer said Antonovs, MiG fighter jets, ground artillery and helicopter gunships were used in attacks on Werguet and Majak Woi on Monday.

"The world does not know the nature of (the Sudanese) regime," said Aguer.

Aguer said several areas along the border, including Werguet, had been shelled by artillery and bombed by Antonov airplanes since Friday. Aguer said the Sudanese Armed Forces also employed the Darfuri Janjaweed Militia in an attack on Majak Bai on May 26.

The clashes come as delegations from both countries travel to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa for talks Tuesday.

"These are not signs of peace," said South Sudan's lead negotiator, Pagan Amum, as he prepared to leave for Ethiopia on Monday.

The two countries will resume bitter negotiations on issues left over from the 2005 peace deal that eventually saw South Sudan break away from Sudan to form an independent nation in July last year. Among the most contentious issues are the separation of their once-unified oil industry and the demarcation of the long and ill-defined border.

The negotiations are led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been unable to push the two sides closer to a deal.

The talks broke off completely in early April as the two countries engaged in open clashes over the oil-rich Heglig region, drawing the attention of the international community.

South Sudanese officials have complained in the past that the Mbeki-led negotiations lack sufficient clout to pressure Sudan into reaching a deal. The talks are now being monitored by the United Nations Security Council, but the added pressure comes with a looming deadline.

On May 2, the body passed a resolution calling on Sudan and South Sudan to resume negotiations and reach a deal within three months or face possible sanctions. Years of negotiations have so far yielded little. The two countries now have just over two months to resolve the myriad issues before them.

Despite the difficulties, South Sudanese negotiator Amum said he remains "optimistic" for the talks.

"Our objective is to negotiate and reach a comprehensive agreement, a just peace agreement that will bring peace between the two countries," said Amum.