The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan have narrowly met a UN deadline by arriving in Ethiopia for joint talks. The Security Council had threatened sanctions if the countries failed to resolve their differences.
Sunday's meeting between Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan's Salva Kiir came on the date set in the UN deadline. Ethiopia's new prime minister had consulted with both presidents in preparation for the talks.
"The summit is to reach a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, so let us hope," said Badr el-din Abdullah, the spokesman for Sudan's mission to the African Union.
Both sides appeared optimistic going into the talks after months of stalemate that have crippling their economies.
"We are not going to go back to fighting each other," said Atif Kiir, spokesman for South Sudan's delegation. "We know the cost of that after 50 years of war. It is time to rebuild our lives, to rebuild our nation."
Row over oil and export routes
South Sudan achieved its independence last year as part of a 2005 peace deal that helped end the country's five-decade civil war.
The new country sits on more than 70 percent of the former country's oil, but the processing and export facilities sit on the other side of the border, in Sudan.
South Sudan stopped production in January during a row about oil transit fees. In August, Sudan and South Sudan reached a deal to export oil and share revenues.
South Sudan has also accused Sudan of air-dropping weapons to rebels, a charge Khartoum denies. Sudan, in turn, often accuses South Sudan of supporting rebels on its side.
The two sides came close to war in the spring and international officials have since tried to mediate a border security agreement.
mkg/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)