Bashir agrees to summit with South Sudan

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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has agreed to attend a summit on Friday with his South Sudanese counterpart to push stalled economic and security deals, official media say.

The meeting, which the SUNA news agency said is slated for the Ethiopian capital, will be the first since Bashir and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir signed deals in late September. These agreements, which they hailed as having the potential to end local conflict, have not yet been put into effect.

The two countries fought along their unmarked border in March and April.

In a report late on Tuesday, SUNA said Bashir “has accepted the invitation” by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to meet with Bashir in Addis Ababa.

Sudan’s presidential press secretary, Emad Sayed Ahmed, told SUNA that the two would “discuss means of speeding up the implementation of the issues agreed upon at the summit between the two presidents” three months ago.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting rebels inside its territory, which has been a major obstacle to implementing the agreements.

The South, in turn, says Sudan backs rebels on southern soil.

Tensions have persisted along the border, most recently last week when Sudan’s military said “armed groups” from South Sudan clashed with Arab tribesmen in Samaha, one of five areas disputed by Khartoum and the South’s government in Juba.

Sudan considers the area, around the Bahr al-Arab River, to be part of its East Darfur state.

The Samaha incident prompted France to call for an end to fighting along the Sudan-South Sudan border, saying it could threaten efforts to normalize relations between the two states.

In late November Sudan’s army said it attacked an area north of Samaha where rebels had had set up a compound, but South Sudan said bombs landed on its territory, killing several people.

The September deals called for a demilitarized border buffer zone and allowed for the resumption of South Sudanese oil exports through northern pipelines, a move vital for both economies.

They also said border points would be reopened for general trade.

South Sudan separated in July 2011 under a peace agreement that ended the 1983-2005 civil war.