U.S., Norway and Britain concerned about breakdown of talks in Sudan

14:06, March 16, 2011      

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Foreign ministers of the United States, Norway and Britain on Tuesday expressed "serious concern" about the announced breakdown of talks between the two sides in Sudan in a sensitive period.

"The members of the Sudan Troika express serious concern about the announced breakdown of talks between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) this weekend," said a joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Stoere and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

The SPLM on Saturday decided to suspend dialogue with the ruling NCP, accusing the party of seeking to topple the government of south Sudan.

Dozens of people were killed in recent clashes between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and a rebel militia in Upper Nile State in south Sudan and in other battles between the Mesiria tribe and SPLA fighters in the country's disputed oil-rich area of Abyei.

SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer accused the Sudanese army of supporting the rebel militia in the south, and alleged that the centers of those militia were in Khartoum and that they were sent to the south by the Sudanese Armed Forces.

"In this sensitive period, it is critical that the NCP and SPLM maintain their dialogue and make further progress toward the creation of sustainable economic, political and security arrangements between the two parties," the joint statement said.

It urged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir Mayardit, Sudanese First Vice President and president of south Sudan government, to "take steps against alleged actions that destabilize each other's governments and territories, and to lay the ground for mutual cooperation with the goal of the creation of two viable states in July."

Following a January referendum in which south Sudan voted to secede from the north, the two sides started negotiations on a number of thorny issues, which include the status of Abyei, the border demarcation, citizenship and oil revenue division, before the transitional period ends and south Sudan formally declares independence in July.

The Troika group called upon the parties to "take immediate measures to restrain armed groups under their influence," and to resume bilateral discussions on conditions for their withdrawal.

It strongly urged the parties to avoid taking actions "that jeopardize peace at this time of heightened tensions," and recommit themselves to a full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, under which the south Sudan referendum was held.

Source: Xinhua

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