June 10, 2010 / 8:10 AM / 9 years ago

US stresses backing for vote on future of south Sudan-Biden

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday reiterated strong U.S. backing for a credible and timely referendum on South Sudan’s self determination, the White House said.

Biden met with south Sudan leaders in Nairobi. He is traveling to attend the start of the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa at the end of this week.

"The Vice President reaffirmed the strong U.S. commitment to seeing the referendum on Southern self-determination occur on time and in a manner that credibly reflects the will of the Southern Sudanese people," the White House said.

A 2005 peace deal to end a 22-year civil war between the largely Christian and animist south Sudan and the mostly Muslim North, included autonomy for the South, a share in oil revenues and a path to independence via the referendum in January 2011.

Biden also urged southerners to immediately being talks with the Khartoum government in the north to iron out post-vote issues like the position of the border, revenue sharing and citizen rights.

The vote is seen as a potential flashpoint for regional security and Biden promised to continue U.S. aid to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army "in recognition of the serious threats to security faced by the South", the White House said.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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