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South Sudan president says Sudan has declared war on them
BEIJING, April 24 |
BEIJING, April 24 (Reuters) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir told his Chinese counterpart of Tuesday that Sudan had declared war on his newly-independent country, following weeks of border fighting between the two countries.
"It (this visit) comes at a very critical moment for the Republic of South Sudan because our neighbour in Khartoum has declared war on the Republic of South Sudan," Kiir told President Hu Jintao during a meeting in Beijing.
"I have undertaken this visit because of the great relationship that I value with China. China is one of our economic and strategic partners," he added.
Kiir's visit comes days after he ordered troops to withdraw from the oil-rich Heglig region after seizing it from Sudan, a move that brought the two countries to the brink of all-out war.
Sudanese war planes bombed a market in the capital of South Sudan's oil-producing Unity State on Monday, residents and officials said, an attack the southern army called a declaration of war.
Sudan denied carrying out any air raids but its President Omar Hassan al-Bashir ramped up the political tension by ruling out a return to negotiations with the South, saying its government only understood "the language of the gun".
Weeks of border fighting have brought the neighbours closer to a full-blown war than at any time since South Sudan split from Sudan as an independent country in July.
The two territories went their separate ways last year without settling a list of bitter disputes over the position of their shared border, the ownership of key territories and how much the landlocked South should pay to transport its oil through Sudan. (Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ed Lane)
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