(Corrects translation of quote from "useful" to "extensive" in
* Sudan accuses Juba of supporting SPLM-North rebels
* Talks ended without a breakthrough on Tuesday
* Both sides under pressure from oil shutdown
By Alexander Dziadosz
KHARTOUM, Dec 19 Sudan and South Sudan will
tackle the sensitive issue of support for rebel groups for the
first time when they resume security talks next month, Sudan's
defence minister said on Wednesday.
The former civil war foes have been at loggerheads over
their contested border and other issues since South Sudan
seceded last year under a 2005 peace deal.
The disputes came to a head in January - when landlocked
South Sudan shut down its entire 350,000 barrel-a-day oil output
in a row with Khartoum over transit and other fees - and again
in April, when border clashes brought the two close to all-out
Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting rebels fighting in
two states that border South Sudan. Juba denies supporting the
rebels, known as the SPLM-North, and in turn accuses Khartoum of
backing insurgents on its territory.
The SPLM-North rebels were part of the southern insurgent
army during the civil war but were left in Sudan with partition.
Facing heavy pressure from the United Nations and African
Union mediators, Sudan and South Sudan signed a raft of deals in
September including one to pull back their armies from the
border. Both sides say that step is needed to resume oil flows.
But talks in Addis Ababa about how to put those agreements
into practice ended without agreement on Tuesday, and South
Sudan's chief negotiator told Reuters the negotiations were now
Sudan's Defence Minister Abdel Raheem Mohammed Hussein
n evertheless said the negotiations had been "extensive" and that
South Sudan had agreed to discuss its alleged support for
"This is a big step," he told reporters at the Khartoum
airport after returning from Ethiopia, adding that the two sides
would meet again on Jan. 13 in Addis Ababa.
Hussein said the issue of rebel support had gone nowhere in
previous meetings between security officials but there had been
more progress this time.
"This time there was an agreement that this is an essential
issue and should be discussed," he said, adding the two sides
would discuss it during their next meeting.
Late on Tuesday, Thabo Mbeki, the African Union mediator and
former South African president, said the two sides had agreed to
take "practical steps" to demilitarise the border.
But the two were still in disagreement about how to
dimilitarise a disputed strip of land known as Mile 14, he said.
"The parties continue to agree that it should be
demilitarised but they are discussing how to effect that
decision," Mbeki told reporters in Addis Ababa.
Both economies are facing severe strain because of the loss
of oil revenues, which accounted for 98 percent of South Sudan's
state income before the shutdown and were Sudan's biggest source
of revenues and foreign currency before secession.
Some 2 million people died in Sudan's north-south civil war,
which left South Sudan economically devastated and awash with
(Additional reporting by Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa; Editing
by Alison Williams)