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News Analysis: Comprehensive war not likely between Sudan, South Sudan

(Xinhua)

09:58, March 30, 2012

KHARTOUM, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Experts excluded possibilities of a comprehensive war between Sudan and South Sudan, despite recent clashes in their border area have evoked fear that there could be a further escalation between the two countries which used to be one.

Observers saw the recent clashes in Higlieg area were no more than "limited violations," saying war is in the interests of neither countries. Maj. Gen. Hassan Bayoumi, a Sudanese military expert, told Xinhua that the two countries cannot afford a new war, mostly due to the economic conditions.

"I believe both countries are now crossing a political phase in which each one is trying to prove it is the strongest and most capable of acting and reacting. I believe the whole matter will not surpass this phase and there will not be a comprehensive war in the sense of the term," he said.

He said violence in Higlieg were not a surprise, noting the ruling party of South Sudan, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), used to adopting military action before every round of negotiations as a means of pressure, and the Sudanese government, familiar with the move, has been prepared.

Sudan and South Sudan on Thursday resumed negotiations over outstanding issues in Addis Ababa under the mediation of the African Union (AU), according to the Sudanese media.

"There is a strong bond between what happened in Higlieg and the round of negotiations in Addis Ababa," said Siraj-Eddin Abdul- Ghafar, a Sudanese political analyst.

The South Sudan government wants to change the front with Sudan and impose reality on the ground by force before the negotiations, he said, noting Juba wants to begin the talks with the withdrawal of its forces instead of such issues as border demarcation and the fees for exporting its oil through Sudan.

Clashes between Sudan and South Sudan on Monday in Higlieg in South Kordofan state on the borders between the two countries. South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced on Monday that his forces had entered Sudan's Higlieg area, accusing the Sudanese army of bombarding Jao area in South Sudan on earlier the day.

The clashes occurred after the two sides agreed to convene a presidential-level summit on April 3 in Juba, capital of South Sudan. The two, under the mediation of the AU, have initialized a framework agreement on border demarcation, the conditions of citizens and on holding the summit.

The two countries have differences over many border areas including Jao which witnessed armed clashes on Feb. 26.

Sudan and South Sudan on Feb. 10 signed a Non-aggression Deal to avoid armed conflicts, also under the AU mediation, which stipulates that each side should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the other, not to intervene in the other' s internal affairs, refrain from use of force and observe common interests and peaceful co-existence.

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