The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to establish a demilitarized zone along their disputed border. The deal opens the way for the two countries to resume oil exports.
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir agreed to the deal Saturday, African Union mediator and former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki said.
Over two days of talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, the two sides agreed that deals reached previously at a September summit should be implemented "unconditionally," said Mbeki.
After weeks of deadly fighting earlier last year, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire in April. Tension remains between the two sides, however, and neither country has withdrawn its military since reaching an agreement to do so in September.
Both sides had said the military removal was necessary to resume the flow of oil from fields in landlocked South Sudan through Sudan, something both economies badly need.
Implementing existing agreements
"They've … agreed that actions should be taken as soon as possible to implement all the existing agreements unconditionally," Mbeki said.
Mbeki added that the necessary decisions will be made to ensure the creation of a safe, demilitarized zone as agreed to in September.
On Saturday, the two sides agreed to demarcate agreed-on sections of their nearly 2,000 km (1,240 miles) shared border.
The African Union, backed by western powers, had threatened both countries with sanctions if they missed a September deadline to resolve their dispute, and have since granted more time for negotiation.
South Sudan became independent in July 2011, ending decades of civil war, but the country has yet to resolve a number of disputes with its neighbor to the north.
dr/ch (Reuters, dpa, AP)