Sudan urges South Sudan to expel rebels for oil restart

Wed Dec 5, 2012 1:42pm EST
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By Ulf Laessing and Alexander Dziadosz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan will not allow South Sudan's oil exports to flow through its territory until Juba cuts ties with anti-Khartoum rebels and expels their leaders, a Sudanese vice president said on Wednesday, dampening hopes that bilateral tensions were over.

In a rare interview with foreign media, Sudan's Second Vice President al-Haj Adam Youssef also dismissed rumors that President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was in poor health, and said senior officers arrested for planning a coup against the veteran leader last month would get a fair trial.

Sudan and South Sudan agreed in September to secure their disputed border and resume oil exports after clashes brought them close to an all-out war in April. It was the worst violence since the South seceded last year under a 2005 deal that ended decades of civil war.

The African neighbors have yet to withdraw their armies from the border, a step both said was necessary to resume oil flows from the south, a lifeline for both of their economies.

South Sudan shut down its entire output of 350,000 barrels a day in January after failing to agree on an export fee with Sudan for the crude to pass through pipelines in the north.

On Sunday, South Sudan's negotiator Pagan Amum said exports could restart in two or three weeks, raising hopes lingering issues would be resolved at talks in Khartoum this week.

But Youssef rejected Amum's assertion that security questions had been settled, and accused Juba of continuing to support and host rebels fighting the Khartoum government.

"We see that nothing has been done positively in this respect. We want action, of course, rather than talking," Youssef told Reuters, sitting in his office in the Republican Palace on the banks of the Nile.   Continued...