[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): U.S. says situation in Sudan border area very dangerous

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Sep 07 2011 - 12:42:50 EDT

U.S. says situation in Sudan border area very dangerous

Wed Sep 7, 2011 3:39pm GMT

(Adds more quotes)

KHARTOUM, Sept 7 (Reuters) - The United States is urging Sudan and armed
opposition groups in the border Blue Nile state to immediately start talks
to end fighting, the U.S. special envoy for Sudan said on Wednesday.

Fighting broke out last week in the northern state between the Sudanese army
and fighters allied to the northern wing of the southern ruling Sudan
People's Liberation Movement (SPLM-N).

Both sides blame each other for the violence in the third Sudanese border
area that has recently seen fighting and Washington says the unrest is an
obstacle to normalising ties with Sudan, which is under U.S. sanctions.

"The two sides are not still talking to each other. That means the situation
remains very dangerous, fighting is going on," Princeton Lyman told
reporters after meeting Sudan's foreign minister and other officials.

He urged Sudan not to clamp down on the SPLM-N, which northern officials
says is responsible for the fighting in Blue Nile and not a registered
political party. The SPLM-N says its offices across Sudan have been closed
and staff detained.

"If there is going to be a discussion and political talks, who are you going
to talk to? Of course you are going to talk to the SPLM-North. It's a major
political party in Sudan. Closing down offices does not help," he said.

Lyman also said Washington wanted to move towards normalising ties with
Khartoum but violence in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, another border state
that has seen fighting, was an obstacle.

"We continue to want on move on that path towards normalisation ... but
clearly when you have a situation like what is happening in South Kordofan
and Blue Nile that throws an obstacle in the way," he said.

Sudan was placed on the U.S. sanctions list in 1993 for harbouring
"international terrorists". It has hosted prominent militants including
Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal. Washington also has put a trade
embargo on Sudan.

Sudanese officials had hoped ties would be normalised after Khartoum
accepted the breakaway of South Sudan which became independent in July after
a vote agreed under a 2005 peace deal.

(Reporting by Ulf Laessing)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved


Sudan needs up to $1.5 bln in aid a year - Fin Min

Wed Sep 7, 2011 11:06am GMT

* Plans to slash budget spending by 25 pct

* Budget deficit will not exceed 3 pct of GDP

* See GDP growth about 5 pct in 2011, 6 pct or more in 2012 (Releads, adds
quotes, details)

By Martin Dokoupil and Mahmoud Habboush

ABU DHABI, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Sudan may need as much as $1.5 billion of
foreign aid a year and plans to slash government spending by a quarter as it
faces budget difficulties due to its recent split into two countries, its
finance minister said on Wednesday.

The North has lost 75 percent of the country's oil production of 500,000
barrels a day after South Sudan gained independence in July, thanks to a
2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war.

"According to our estimate we need not less than at least $1 billion, 1.3
billion, 1.5 billion a year," Finance Minister Ali Mahmoud of North Sudan
told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab finance ministers in
the United Arab Emirates.

"We are still under sanctions from the African Development Bank, the IMF...
our efforts are within Arab countries and the others like China, India,
Turkey," he said, adding there was no imminent agreement.

Mahmoud also said he wanted to cut budget expenditure by 'no less than 25
percent' and that the government was trying to boost hard currency revenue
from other sources such as mining.

"We expect some difficulties in the budget, but they are controllable,"
Mahmoud told Reuters earlier on Wednesday. "If any deficit, it will be
limited, not exceeding 3 percent (of GDP)."

Foreign investment in the country has also been limited due to violence,
mismanagement and a U.S. embargo in place since 1997, analysts say.

Mahmoud said that economic growth would be limited to about 5 percent in
2011 and that the government planned to push inflation into single digits
next year from around 15 percent now.

"We're expecting 6 percent (economic growth) or a little more for 2012," he

The secession has also disrupted the currency market, as people and
businesses scrambled to buy dollars, pressuring the Sudanese pound despite
the central bank's pledge to provide banks with more dollars to meet rising
hard currency demand.

But Mahmoud said that this will eventually be corrected, as Sudan starts to
rely more on locally produced goods rather than imports.

"We are expecting the demand for the dollar will decrease, so this will
stabilise the dollar against the Sudanese pound," he said. (Reporting by
Mahmoud Habboush and Martin Dokoupil; editing by Ramya Venugopal)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved


Gunfire erupts in Sudan border city as residents return

Tue Sep 6, 2011 9:20pm GMT


(Adds shooting, NCP, SPLM comments)

By El-Tayeb Siddig

DAMAZIN, Sudan, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Heavy gunfire broke out on Tuesday in the
capital of Sudan's Blue Nile border state where government soldiers have
been fighting armed opposition groups, a Reuters correspondent said.

Tensions have mounted in states along Sudan's poorly-defined border with
South Sudan since the south declared independence in July.

Thousands fled after fighting erupted last week in Blue Nile -- the third
Sudanese border area hit by violence this year between the army and forces
linked to South Sudan's ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).

A Reuters journalist in the state capital Damazin said he heard intense
gunfire lasting several minutes late on Tuesday. The power supply was
interrupted after the incident in parts of the city, he added.

The Sudanese army said a government soldier had accidentally fired his gun
outside Damazin and other soldiers inside the city responded by shooting
their weapons, state news agency SUNA reported.

"The situation is now quiet. There is no attack by the enemy against the
city," an army spokesman told SUNA. No one was immediately available for
comment from the armed groups allied to the opposition SPLM-N, the former
northern wing of the South Sudan's ruling SPLM.

Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan -- both states on Sudan's side of the border
-- and the disputed Abyei area, saw heavy fighting during decades of civil
war between the Khartoum government and South Sudan. Fresh clashes have
broken out in all three this year.

They are all still home to tens of thousands of people from ethnic groups
that sided with the south during the civil war.

Khartoum has accused people from those groups of trying to spread chaos
along the border, backed by South Sudan's government -- a charge denied by
South Sudan.

Rights groups have accused Khartoum of trying to stamp out remaining
opposition on its side of the border and provoking the violence by trying to
disarm south-linked groups.

Tuesday's shooting came a day after the new Blue Nile Military Governor
Yahia Mohammed Kheir said life in Damazin had returned to normal and
residents had started to return.

He told reporters in the state capital on Monday fighting was continuing
south of Damazin where the army was fighting groups allied to the SPLM.

"Fighting is going on 30 km (19 miles) to the south but in the west and
north and east (of Blue Nile state) the situation is very calm," he said.

On Friday, Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir appointed Kheir as
temporary military ruler after firing the elected governor Malik Agar, from
the opposition SPLM-N, the northern wing of the south's dominant SPLM.

When asked when the army would end military operations, Kheir said: "We
would like to end military operations today. We are now clearing areas where
SPLA fighters are still present."

Officials told reporters 12 soldiers, six policemen and three citizens had
been killed in fighting in Damazin since last week.

On Tuesday, Mandour al-Mahdi, a senior official in Sudan's ruling National
Congress Party (NCP), said the SPLM would have to stop its political
activities in the north as it was not properly registered.

SPLM-N Secretary-General Yasir Arman said in a statement authorities were
closing its offices throughout Sudan.

South Sudanese voters overwhelmingly chose to declare independence from the
north in a 2005 referendum, a vote promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended
the north-south civil war fought over oil, religion, ideology and ethnicity.
(Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved


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