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U.S. concerned about violence between Sudan, South Sudan

(Xinhua)

10:15, April 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, April 24 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday expressed concerns over the violence between Sudan and South Sudan, calling on both sides to withdraw their forces and resume talks.

"Regarding Sudan and South Sudan, we are very concerned about what is happening in the region, particularly along the border," said Clinton in a joint press conference with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Robert Carr.

Border clashes between the two neighbors have been ongoing since South Sudan won independence in July 2011. South Sudan seized Sudan's most important oil field in Heglig on April 10 and occupied it for ten days, sparking strong international condemnation.

The South Sudanese government said on Friday that it had ordered its army to immediately withdraw from Heglig, two days after Khartoum declared war on Juba.

Clinton said that South Sudan's withdrawal from Heglig " presented an opportunity for Khartoum to resume negotiations and to make real progress between North and South."

She noted that the next steps for both sides should be "a cease- fire, a withdrawal of armed groups from both sides, and a resumption of talks."

Condemning the alleged bombing of civilians by the government of Sudan in South Sudan, Clinton described the actions as " provocative" and "unacceptable," although Khartoum had denied the accusation.

South Sudan voted to secede from Sudan under a 2005 peace deal that ended a two-decade civil war, but the pair have an array of unsettled issues between them, including border demarcation and oil division.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir reiterated on Monday that his country will not negotiate with South Sudan, calling on the Sudanese army to respond to any aggression by the South Sudan army.

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