Juba: South Sudan on Wednesday called for talks with Sudan to stop a bitter border conflict from escalating after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir threatened to topple the "insect" Juba government.
"We can only resolve this through talks with the African Union," South Sudan's Minister of Information, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said.
"We have not entered the Republic of Sudan, and we have no plans for regime change in Sudan... We have no plans to invade Khartoum," he added.
Clashes erupted last month at Heglig on the disputed border, but escalated last week with waves of aerial bombardment hitting the South, and Juba's seizure of the area's oilfield on April 10.
Earlier, AU-mediated talks failed to settle a raft of issues including oil transit fees and border demarcation between the two sides.
Bashir, speaking at a rally in support of troops who hope to reclaim the contested Heglig oil field -- Sudan's most important -- back from the Southern army, said: "We call it (the South's government) an insect ... Trying to destroy Sudan, and our main target from today is to eliminate this insect completely.”
"There are two choices: Either we end up in Juba or they end up in Khartoum," Bashir added, predicting that victory would be swift.
There are widespread fears the fighting will spread. It is already the worst since South Sudan won independence in July after a 1983-2005 civil war which killed two million people.
Juba says it was defending itself, and claims Khartoum's Army used Heglig as a base to launch raids inside South Sudan as the two sides struggled to settle a raft of issues including oil and border demarcation after the South's independence.
"We thought that we could only resolve this peacefully around a table, but Sudan has been using Heglig as a base to launch attacks on the South," Benjamin said.
"It is they who want to impose change on South Sudan -- they have declared us an enemy state," he added. (AFP)
First Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 10:33