By NICHOLAS BARIYO
The Sudanese government said Tuesday it would no longer
negotiate with rebels it accuses South Sudan of backing, and
threatened to close the pipeline carrying crude oil shipments
from its landlocked neighbor.
The decision is a significant setback for the African Union
led efforts to end a conflict that has displaced tens of
thousands of people in the past two years.
It comes as Sudan's army recaptured a key town from the
rebels in the oil producing South Kordofan state, after days of
heavy clashes that underscore the tense situation between the
"The message from the president [Omar al-Bashir] is that we
cannot continue talking to people who are terrorizing
citizens," said government spokesman Rabie Abdelaty. Mr. Bashir
also told state news agency SUNA that Sudan would close the
pipeline carrying oil shipments from the south if South Sudan
continues to support the rebels operating in the states of
South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur on Sudan's southern
South Sudan pumps its crude to Port Sudan through two
pipelines from its Unity and Upper Nile states. The pipelines
are vital to the two nation's economies, which are struggling
to recover from the lost revenue following a 15 month oil
Sudan in late 2011 confiscated South Sudanese crude valued
at $815 million, prompting Juba to close its entire 350,000 bpd
Barnaba Benjamin, South Sudan's information minister, said
his government is ready to negotiate with Khartoum over the
standoff, but added that his government "has nothing to do"
with rebels in Sudan. "We are committed to the implementation
of the peace agreements and we urge Sudan to follow suit,
closing the pipelines will not help at all."
Dow Jones Newswires