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Sudan's Bashir to Juba for Thursday summit: State media

AFP , Monday 20 Jan 2014
Bashir, Kiir
File Photo: South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (R) welcomes his Sudan counterpart Omar Hassan al-Bashir outside his Presidential office in Juba April 12, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
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Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir will travel Thursday to the capital of war-torn South Sudan to push peace efforts in a regional summit, the official SUNA news agency said on Monday.

The invitation came from Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, chairman of the seven-member Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African bloc mediating the South Sudanese conflict.

Bashir "will head Sudan's delegation at the IGAD summit," SUNA reported.

"The summit will discuss the crisis in South Sudan."

It will be Bashir's second peace mission to the southern capital Juba since fighting began in mid-December.

Britain last week commended the "balanced role" Khartoum has played in support of the IGAD-led talks.

Thousands have been killed and half a million civilians have been forced to flee because of the fighting between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his sacked deputy Riek Machar.

African Union Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Monday flew to Juba to meet Kiir in a bid to help broker a peace deal.

The South became independent from Khartoum in 2011 under an agreement that ended a 22-year civil war.

But tensions continued and the two countries fought periodic border clashes in 2012.

Disputes over oil fees and Khartoum's accusations that Juba supported rebels on northern soil strained relations until a September summit between Kiir and Bashir.

The two countries then adopted a markedly friendly tone, after the talks affirmed their commitment to implement economic and security pacts, including a guarantee that southern oil would move through Sudan's pipelines for export via the Red Sea.

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