Sudan, South Sudan agree on oil transit fees
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MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Uneasy neighbors Sudan and South Sudan reached a deal on oil transit fees a day after a U.N. Security Council deadline passed for them to come to terms or face sanctions, it was announced Saturday.
South Sudan recently marked a year of independence from Sudan, but there has seemed little cause to celebrate. Earlier this year, the two countries tilted dangerously toward war in the wake of South Sudan's decision in January to shut down oil production over the acrimonious dispute on the price Sudan charges to ship oil through its country.
The shutdown damaged the economies of both countries. As oil stopped flowing, consumer prices rocketed, shortages set in and currencies fell.
Though the two have agreed on a transit price, an intractable dispute over territory and their shared border was set aside until late September.
African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki, former South African president, told reporters the countries would discuss what steps must be taken for oil companies to resume production.
Sudanese officials confirmed the deal but said it would not take effect until border security matters were settled. Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting antigovernment rebels in Sudanese territory, while South Sudan says its neighbor is guilty of supporting militias in its country.
The deal came after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the South Sudanese capital, Juba, and urged the government there to make peace with its neighbor.
The U.S. has been supportive of South Sudan, the world's newest country, which took possession of three-quarters of the Sudanese oil fields when it became independent last year. But with oil production suspended, and the slide toward war in April after South Sudan seized a Sudanese oil town, Washington has shown signs of impatience.
"We need to get those (oil) resources flowing again," Ms. Clinton told journalists in Juba on Friday after meeting South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
"A percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing.
"While South Sudan and Sudan have become separate states, their fortunes and their futures remain inextricably linked," said Ms. Clinton, who is on a seven-nation tour of Africa.
On Saturday, she met with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, urging his country to avoid a repeat of the widespread violence that followed the 2007 Kenyan presidential election.
She also met the leader of Somalia's transitional government, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, on Saturday and applauded strides made toward a democratic transition, expected Aug. 20, when a new president is to be elected by Somalia's parliament.
First Published August 5, 2012 12:00 am