S Sudan offers billions of dollars to settle Sudan disputes
Juba: South Sudan is offering Khartoum "billions of dollars" if it agrees to settle all bilateral disputes and gives up claims to the contested oil-producing Abyei region, a top official said on Friday.
South Sudan became the world's newest country after voting for independence in a January vote, taking with it three-quarters of the former united country's roughly 500,000 barrels per day of oil production.
The split left a long list of unresolved issues; including Abyei, how to share oil revenues and other assets, and how to end border violence. Sudan is facing a severe economic crisis and has asked fellow Arab countries for aid to compensate for the loss of oil revenues.
African Union (AU) mediators hope both countries will meet in Ethiopia next week after talks collapsed in the summer over the question of how much the landlocked South should pay for the use of Sudan's export facilities.
Apart from how to divide oil revenues, Abyei is one of the biggest disputes between north and south. Sudan's armed forces seized the border region in May and says Abyei will stay with the north unless a much-delayed referendum agreed under the 2005 peace agreement decides otherwise.
South Sudan's chief negotiator Pagan Amum said his government has presented Sudan and the African Union with a "package proposal" to resolve issues around Abyei, oil, financial assistance, borders and security.
"We presented a very reasonable and logical proposal in which we are prepared to assist the north and give them billions of dollars," Amum told reporters.
He said his country would "be ready to assist the Republic of Sudan to manage its economic crisis resulting from the separation of South Sudan," if Khartoum respects the territorial integrity of the South. He did not elaborate.
Decades of civil war have left the South severely underdeveloped but the flow of oil dollars means it has a higher per capita income than many of its African neighbours. It contracted the sale of oil worth USD 2.14 billion from July to October.
Sudan's Foreign Ministry spokesman El-Obeid Morawah declined to comment on Amum's proposal other than to say such moves should be made during talks and not through the media.
He said the government would meet AU mediator Thabo Mbeki in Khartoum on Saturday and then decide whether talks in Ethiopia would make sense now or if Sudan needed more time.
"We have not yet agreed on a specific date for talks (in Ethiopia)," he said.
Sudan's Foreign Ministry called on Juba to reconsider a presidential decree transferring shares in oil consortia owned by Sudapet, Sudan's state-owned oil company, to South Sudan's oil-firm Nilepet.
But Amum said Nilepet would take over Sudapet's shares.
"Sudapet and its interests and assets will pass to Nilepet as the government company that inherits and takes over the properties of the government of Sudan as part of the separation and disengagement and as an exercise of sovereignty," he said.