KHARTOUM, Sudan -- The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan agreed on Saturday to set up a demilitarized zone along their disputed border, said an African Union mediator and Sudan's state news agency.
Presidents Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan and Salva Kiir of South Sudan agreed in September to withdraw their armies from the border area between their countries. But neither side has done so. Instead, each accuses the other of supporting rebels in and near the border region. Tensions have boiled, and war nearly erupted in April.
On Saturday, at a meeting arranged by the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the two leaders agreed to carry out the terms of the September accord on issues related to borders, security and oil, according to the official Sudanese news agency, SUNA, and the African Union mediator, former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
Mr. Mbeki said that Mr. Bashir and Mr. Kiir had agreed to "create the safe demilitarized border zone" and carry out "the existing agreements unconditionally," according to Reuters.
The establishment of the roughly six-mile-wide buffer zone is seen as crucial to resuming the mutually needed flow of oil in South Sudan, which shut down production last year after a dispute with Sudan, which controls the pipelines, over transit fees.
Sayed el-Khatib, a member of Sudan's delegation, emphasized that Saturday's meeting would speed up the activation of previous agreements, SUNA reported.
SUNA also reported that Mr. Kiir said he had delinked his party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, from a wing of rebels operating in Sudan along the border. Sudan has accused South Sudan of supporting the northern group's armed branch, which South Sudan has denied.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but questions related to the sharing of oil wealth, the demarcation of borders and the disputed district of Abyei were left unresolved. On Saturday, the two sides reaffirmed plans to set up a joint committee to oversee Abyei and the establishment of a legislative council and police force there.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.