The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have said they are determined to settle oil and border rows that have brought the two countries close to war. Their talks came on the sidelines of a African Union summit in Ethiopia.
The two presidents met late on Saturday for face-to-face talks in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, after attending a summit of the African Union's Peace and Security Council.
It was the first meeting between Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir since border clashes erupted between the two neighbors in March and April.
"The two leaders are taking a new strategic approach to finding a comprehensive solution to all outstanding issues between the two countries," said Pagan Aman, South Sudan's chief negotiator, in an interview.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who chairs the AU Council, told reporters: "Their statements persuaded us that there is good will."
Since the oil-rich south gained independence from the north a year ago, the two Sudans have been involved in disputes, and sometimes armed conflict, over a range of issues related to oil revenues and borders. South Sudan has 75 percent of the region's oil, but still depends on Sudan for its pipeline and Red Sea port for exporting crude.
The two sides are holding AU-mediated peace talks in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, with the UN threatening sanctions if they do not reach an agreement by August 2.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, African leaders met to discuss the instability in Mali, renewed violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the ongoing tensions between the two Sudans at their biannual summit in Addis Ababa.
Ping opened the summit saying that the AU was ready to send troops to eastern DRC as part of a peacekeeping force, where Rwanda is accused by UN experts and Kinshasa of supporting a mutiny by Congolese troops.
Rwanda has denied involvement and in turn accuses Kinshasa of renewing cooperation with Rwandan Hutu rebels, who have been based in eastern DRC since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Ping also called the ongoing crisis in Mali, where al Qaeda-linked jihadists have seized control of the country's north, "undoubtedly one of the most serious threats to security and stability of the continent."
The summit is being overshadowed by elections for the bloc's top job, which pit South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma against incumbent Jean Ping from Gabon.
The leadership race has been deadlocked since a vote in January ended in a stalemate, with Africa's French-speaking nations largely supporting Ping and the English-speaking states mainly backing Dlamini-Zuma.
tj/jlw (Reuters, AFP, dpa)