KHARTOUM (Reuters) - The African Union has asked Sudan to extend a deadline to halt oil flows to South Sudan, state-linked media said on Wednesday, in a last-ditch effort to keep crucial oil exports going.
Last month, Sudan said it would close two oil pipelines with South Sudan by August 7 unless Juba stopped supporting rebels operating across the shared border. South Sudan, which needs to export its oil trough the north, denies the accusation.
The African Union asked Sudan’s foreign ministry in a letter to extend the deadline to find a solution, the Sudanese Media Center (SMC) said on its website.
The AU proposal would “offer the two sides some time to find satisfactory solutions,” foreign ministry spokesman Abu Bakr Saddiq said.
AU mediator Thabo Mbeki will travel to Khartoum on Thursday to meet President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, state news agency SUNA said.
South Sudan only restarted oil production in April after ending pumping around 300,000 barrels per day in January 2012 when the former civil war foes failed to agree on pipeline fees.
The two depend on the oil sales and associated fees. A row over pipeline fees and disputed territory led to weeks of border skirmishes in April 2012, the worst violence since their messy split in 2011.
Both accuse each other of backing insurgents on the other’s territory.
Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Lisa Shumaker