KHARTOUM (Reuters) - China will support Sudan to develop its oil sector and other industries, its foreign minister said on Sunday, after the highest-level talks between the two allies since South Sudan became independent.
Yang Jiechi met north Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti in Khartoum and said Beijing would continue its economic and political support.
“China is ready to cooperate with Sudan in many areas, especially in the oil sector....and agriculture and mining sector,” Yang told reporters after meeting Bashir late on Sunday, speaking through a translator.
China has maintained close ties with Sudan throughout a U.S. trade embargo. North Sudan was the sixth-largest source of Chinese oil imports in 2010.
President Bashir has been shunned by Western countries since being indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for war crimes and genocide. China opposes the indictment.
Karti said Sudan would give special privileges to Chinese firms importing goods to newly independent South Sudan via the north so there would be no delay in transport.
Beijing called on countries to normalize relations with Khartoum after South Sudan seceded last month and has also been keen to build a relationship with leaders in the south. Yang is expected to hold talks in the southern capital Juba on Tuesday.
Yang said earlier that China would continue its efforts with the international community to find a final solution for the issue of the disputed border area of Abyei.
Khartoum and Juba have yet to agree on who will control Abyei, stirring fears that long-running quarrel over the region could sour the secession and spark a broader conflict.
Yang said China was paying attention to ongoing violence in Southern Kordofan, a volatile and oil-rich border territory.
Southern Kordofan is in the north but includes large populations which sided with the south during a 20-year civil war. Armed groups in the state have been fighting Khartoum government troops since early June.
“China is following the recent development of the situation in South Kordofan State and it has exerted efforts with the concerned parties to calm the situation there,” Yang said, according to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry.
Yang said the situation in Darfur, another region where rebels have fought the Khartoum government, could only be resolved through elimination of poverty and through development, which would lead to peaceful co-existence among tribes.
U.N. peacekeepers have said North Sudan has carried out air strikes in Darfur, killing one civilian, in the first confirmed strike since Khartoum signed a peace deal with small rebel group Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in July.
Reporting by El-Tayeb Siddig and Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum and Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing; Writing by Sherine El Madany and Ulf Laessing