ADDIS ABABA Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to order the resumption of the flow of southern oil exports through pipelines in Sudan within two weeks, more than a year after Juba shut down its entire output, a mediator said on Tuesday.
Landlocked South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011, shut down its 350,000 barrel-per-day output in January last year in a dispute with Khartoum over fees.
Both countries depended heavily on oil for revenue and the foreign currency they use to import food and fuel, but disputes over the border and other issues prevented the two from resuming exports.
Sudan's chief negotiator Idris Mohammed Abdel Gadir signed a deal with his South Sudanese counterpart Pagan Amum setting out a timeline for resumption of oil after four days of African Union-brokered talks in Addis Ababa.
Asked when the orders would be given to resume oil flows, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating between the two sides, told reporters: "The instruction to the companies is D-day (March 10) plus 14."
The two former civil war enemies agreed at the talks in the Ethiopian capital on Friday to order the withdrawal of their troops from a demilitarized border zone within a week to ease tensions and open the way to resuming the oil exports.
South Sudan's president has given those orders, the country's armed spokesman said on Monday.
After teetering on the brink of full-scale conflict in April during the worst border clashes since their split, the two countries had agreed in September to set up the buffer zone. However, they did not implement it.
Some 2 million people died in Sudan's decades-long north-south civil war, which ended with a 2005 peace deal that paved the way for the South's secession.
(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Eric Walsh)