North, South Sudan Presidents Close to Agreement

The leaders of north and south Sudan are in a second day of talks aimed at resolving tensions along their border before the south declares independence next month.

Northern President Omar al-Bashir and southern President Salva Kiir are meeting with African Union mediators in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

On Sunday, sources close to the meeting said Mr. Bashir has agreed to withdraw northern troops who occupied the disputed and oil-rich Abyei region last month. The proposed deal would include the deployment of Ethiopian peacekeepers to the poorly-defined north-south border.

In a statement from Tanzania Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. wants northern troops to leave Abyei, and would welcome Ethiopian peacekeepers being sent in.

South Sudan is set to secede on July 9, six months after it voted to split from the north in a referendum.

Tension between Sudan’s two halves has been running high because of the Abyei issue and fighting in Southern Kordofan state. Northern troops have been fighting southern-aligned armed groups in Southern Kordofan for more than a week.

The United Nations says more than 50,000 people have ben displaced from the area.

The north and south previously fought a 21-year civil war that ended in 2005. The unrest in Abyei and Southern Kordofan has raised fears that Sudan could sink back into a prolonged conflict. voa

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