Sudan's Bashir ready to pull troops from Abyei -Carter
Sun May 27, 2012 8:25pm GMT
* Promise a major step towards peace - Carter
* Former US president said Bashir made no provisos
* Sudan, South Sudan still at loggerheads over Abyei
KHARTOUM, May 27 (Reuters) - Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has
said he is ready to pull troops from a disputed border area with South
Sudan, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Sunday, describing it as a
major step toward achieving peace between the neighbours.
Sudan and South Sudan have been at loggerheads over a string of disputes
since the southern nation declared independence in July. Clashes near the
disputed border raised fears of an all-out war last month.
The 2005 peace pact that paved the way for southern secession ended decades
of war between the two sides, but they have failed to agree on the position
of their shared border, division of debt and the status of disputed areas
Carter, speaking to reporters after meeting Bashir on behalf of independent
group The Elders, said the Sudanese leader told him Sudan was ready to pull
troops from Abyei.
"One of the most interesting points that he made is that he has notified the
negotiators that he is ready to withdraw troops from Abyei, which we believe
is a major step forward," Carter said.
Khartoum seized Abyei in May last year, prompting tens of thousands of
civilians to flee, after an attack on a Sudanese army convoy blamed on the
Ethiopian peacekeepers were deployed in the region, prized for its fertile
grazing land, after the security council initially authorised the deployment
last June. South Sudan withdrew its 700-strong police force from Abyei this
The U.N. Security Council demanded on May 17 that Sudan immediately and
unconditionally withdraw its troops from Abyei, but Khartoum pledged only to
do so after a joint military observer body was created for the area.
Carter said Bashir did not express "any reservations or provisos" during the
meeting, but stressed he was not in Sudan to negotiate.
"Obviously we knew in advance that there are only a very few troops left
there, and the South has withdrawn their troops, so this is a major step
forward, I believe, and it's very good to hear this news," he added.
Sudan and South Sudan are scheduled to resume African Union-brokered talks
in Addis Ababa on May 29 to end hostilities and settle remaining disputes
after the border clashes scuppered an earlier round of negotiations.
About 2 million people died in Sudan's north-south civil war, waged for
decades over ideology, religion, ethnicity and oil. (Reporting by Alexander
Dziadosz; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
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Received on Sun May 27 2012 - 16:45:47 EDT