RIYADH (Reuters) - Sudan and Chad signed a reconciliation deal in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, pledging to cooperate with the United Nations to stabilize Sudan’s Darfur region and the neighboring areas of Chad.
“The two sides will adhere to working with the African Union and the United Nations to end the conflict in Darfur and east Chad to realize stability and peace for all,” said a Saudi official, reading from the agreement.
The accord, signed by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his Chadian counterpart, Idriss Deby, stipulated “respect for each other’s territorial integrity, not to interfere in each others affairs or shelter opposition forces of each party ... and eject them immediately”, he said.
Chad has repeatedly accused Sudan of backing rebels in Chad and of supporting attacks in Chad by Janjaweed militia based in Darfur. The Sudanese government calls the Janjaweed outlaws and says it has no ties to them.
Officials from the African Union, whose peacekeepers have failed to ease violence in Darfur, say the conflict cannot be resolved unless hostilities cease on the Sudan-Chad border.
Chad and Sudan have signed at least two previous peace deals in the last 18 months, brokered by northern neighbor Libya.
But the successive agreements did little to halt attacks and incidents on the volatile Darfur border, and both N’Djamena and Khartoum have repeatedly accused each other of failing to keep past accords.
Sudan said on April 9 that 17 of its soldiers were killed in clashes with Chadian troops inside Sudanese territory. The incident was the latest in a series of clashes between Chad and Sudan, as violence from the four-year-old conflict in Darfur has spilled over the border.
Last month the two countries formed a joint military committee as part of efforts to end their border conflict.
Thursday’s Saudi-brokered deal requires both sides to seek to enhance cooperation in various areas including economy.
Sudanese Minister of State for Foreign Relations Ali Ahmed Karti said Saudi Arabia would be a guarantor of the accord.
Asked if Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, would offer money to both parties to ensure the agreement sticks, Karti said: “There is no stipulation in the agreement but the understanding is that the kingdom will help Sudan and Muslims everywhere.”