INTERVIEW-Sudan says oil deal with south depends on security pact
Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:11pm GMT
By Ulf Laessing and Alexander Dziadosz
KHARTOUM Jan 18 (Reuters) - Sudan will continue to take a share of oil from
South Sudan to compensate for what it calls unpaid transit fees and said an
oil deal was unlikely without an agreement on border and security issues,
its foreign minister said on Wednesday.
South Sudan became Africa's newest nation in July under a 2005 peace deal
that ended decades of civil war between north and south, but many issues
remain unresolved, including oil, debt and violence on both sides of the
Tensions escalated last week when Khartoum said it had started confiscating
oil from landlocked South Sudan, which exports its crude through Sudan's
pipelines to a port on the Red Sea.
Sudan's economy has been badly hit by the loss of two-thirds of oil
production to the South, and the country is under pressure to ease the
hardships of people already exhausted by years of conflict, inflation and a
U.S. trade embargo.
The two sides were meant to conclude an oil agreement that would see them
sharing revenues, with the south paying fees to export its oil through the
The African Union is sponsoring talks between the two countries this week,
but Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti dampened hopes of a quick
deal, rejecting the south's criticism of its move as "childish."
"If they are not ready to sit down and conclude an agreement, we will take
our right. We will take our entitlements," he told Reuters in an interview.
"Nobody can hamper us from taking our right. This is our entitlement," Karti
He said South Sudan's support for rebels in the border states of South
Kordofan and Blue Nile was hindering the talks. Juba denies giving support
to the insurgents, who fought as part of the southern army during the civil
"If you are hosting rebels, preparing them against me, supporting them by
munitions, by salaries, by everything, by training, by giving them all
facilities. What shall I wait for? What shall I wait for you to do? I'm
waiting for war," he said.
"So if you are preparing to instigate war against me, what kind of any other
agreement will be useful?"
He said Sudan had monitored conversations that proved Juba was supporting
the rebels - known as the Sudan People's Liberation Movement Army (SPLA-N) -
by continuing to pay their old salaries.
"We listen to them. They know that we listen to them. What kind of
stupidity? You know I'm listening to what you say every day, and you go on
talking about salaries, ammunition, supporting us, and bringing more tanks
near the borders, and the rest," he said.
Any oil agreement would likely depend on a broader deal that addressed the
fighting and other security issues, such as marking the border, Karti said.
"To me, it could be a holistic approach. A piecemeal way of doing things is
not enough, and it proved not to be working. It's better to begin with the
top issues - the security issue to me is very important - and then the rest
will be easy," he said.
Sudan and South Sudan have been discussing a transit fee for southern oil
exports since Juba's independence, but their positions have remained wide
apart. Khartoum wants $1 billion in rear payments plus $36 a barrel to use
the export pipeline, roughly a third of the South's export value.
South Sudan has offered to sell oil to Khartoum at discounted prices and
give financial aid, but Karti said some southern officials had taken a
"Even some of them, sarcastically, they tell us that they are donors and
they will give us some tens of millions, and they will be spending those
millions on humanitarian issues, and trying to solve problems in the needy
areas," he said.
"They talked to us like donors, whereas we are calling for them to sit down
at a table to talk seriously," Karti said.
"(Saying we are) taking their oil, stealing their oil - this is childish,"
he said. "This is our right. If this does not (suit) them, let them block
the oil. It is their oil. We will not at all fight for the oil to come
through our pipeline."
He said a debt pile of almost $40 billion for which Juba refuses to share
responsibility was weighing on the economy but rejected some analysts'
forecasts that Sudan's economy is headed for a severe crisis.
"It is not bad. I will not accept this word," he said. "We are trying our
best to emerge as a country that has good resources, and as a country that
should be supported."
Most Western firms have shunned Sudan since the United States put a trade
embargo in place in 1997 for the country's role in hosting prominent
militants like Osama bin Laden.
Karti said Gulf Arab states were increasing their investments but Sudan
would not ask for any outside help to overcome economic difficulties.
"We are not begging from anybody, we have our resources," he said.
(Additional reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Editing by Peter Graff)
INTERVIEW-Arab monitors "doing fine" in Syria - Sudan
Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:55pm GMT
By Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM Jan 18 (Reuters) - Sudan played down criticism of the Arab League's
monitoring mission in Syria on Wednesday, saying the performance of the team
led by a Sudanese general was improving and it should get more support.
The Arab League sent observers into Syria last month to see whether Damascus
was respecting a peace plan it accepted on Nov. 2 to end a 10-month
crackdown on protesters. Hundreds of killings on both sides have been
reported since then.
Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti said the monitoring mission had
been doing well, despite starting with a limited number of observers.
"Day by day, they are achieving more and more," he told Reuters on
Wednesday, dismissing critics' assertions that the observers have only
provided President Bashar al-Assad with diplomatic cover and more time to
crush his opponents.
"You know they began with a limited number of monitors, and gradually they
began to expand throughout the areas where there are some problems, and they
are doing fine."
The Arab League's committee on Syria is headed by Qatar and is made up of
the foreign ministers of Egypt, Oman, Algeria and Sudan, alongside League
head Nabil Elaraby.
The ministers are due to consider their next step at the weekend, but are
split over how to handle Syria, as is the U.N. Security Council, which has
failed to adopt any position.
"We will be listening to a report from those monitors on Saturday, after two
days. Hopefully the report will be positive, and more support should be
given to the monitors," Karti said.
"They need more support by adding more monitors" and making more facilities
available, he said.
The appointment of Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi to lead the team
alarmed human rights activists, who say the government committed atrocities
in Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region on the general's watch.
Khartoum denies the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.
The United Nations says more than 5,000 civilians and army defectors have
been killed by Assad's forces during the uprising. Damascus says it is
fighting Islamist militants steered from abroad and blames them for the
death of more than 2,000 members of its security forces. (Reporting By Ulf
Laessing and Alexander Dziadosz)
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Received on Thu Jan 19 2012 - 09:17:34 EST