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Norway welcomes progress in talks between Sudan and South Sudan

Norway welcomes the reported progress made in the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan at the weekend. The parties are said to have reached agreement on the sharing of future oil revenues, among other things.

"We welcome the agreement on oil between the parties. It is of vital importance to both countries. It is crucial that South Sudan's oil production is resumed as quickly as possible," said Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås.

In 2011, when South Sudan became independent, some 70 % of Sudan's oil resources went to South Sudan. The two countries failed to reach agreement on compensation to Sudan for the loss of oil revenues and the use of its oil facilities. In January this year South Sudan suspended all oil production claiming that Sudan had seized oil from the pipelines running through Sudan to Port Sudan. Sudan, for its part, stated that this oil had been seized in compensation for the lack of payment received from South Sudan for the use of the pipelines running through its territory.

The loss of oil revenues has resulted in the economic situation in both countries becoming critical. An agreement on oil represents a breakthrough in the negotiations and could help to pave the way for resolving other outstanding issues.

The negotiations on oil and security, as well as humanitarian access to the conflict areas were key topics raised by Mr Holmås during his visits to Sudan and South Sudan last month.

"It is high time that there was some movement in the negotiations and I am pleased to see that our input has been heeded," said Mr Holmås. "The fact that the two parties have shown willingness to compromise is a positive sign. I expect the parties to show a similar willingness to reach agreement on security, Abyei, and border surveillance so that tensions between the countries can be reduced. We therefore urge the parties to redouble their efforts in the ongoing negotiations."

"The leaders of the two countries have shown courage and flexibility in the negotiations leading up to this agreement. We look forward to the time when both countries are able to focus their resources on furthering development and creating a better future for their populations," Mr Holmås said.

"The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), led by former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, also deserves recognition for the work it has done during these very difficult negotiations. Norwegian oil expertise has played an important part in this process. Norway will continue to support the efforts of the African Union," said Mr Holmås.

There are also reports that Sudan has reached agreement with the UN, the African Union and the Arab League on humanitarian access to the areas affected by civil war in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. This is very encouraging.

"Norway urges Sudan to do all it can to bring an end to civilian suffering in the area. We await the signing and entry into force of the agreement next week with bated breath," said Mr Holmås. "Norway urges the SPLM-North to do everything in its power to ensure that the humanitarian aid gets through to those who need it."

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