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Sudan, South Sudan agree to open 10 border crossings

Source: Reuters - Tue, 23 Apr 2013 16:02 GMT
Author: Reuters
Refugee children play on an old plane that crashed at the Yida camp in South Sudan's Unity State, April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu
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By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, April 23 (Reuters) - Sudan and South Sudan agreed on Tuesday to open 10 crossings along their joint border to boost travel and trade after a recent thaw in relations between the long-time foes.

Sudan had closed much of the 2,000-kilometre (1,200-mile) boundary after South Sudan's secession in 2011 - hitting traders and communities on both sides of the disputed line.

Almost a year after the split, border skirmishes brought both countries close to full-blown war over unresolved disputes over oil, territory and other issues.

But the African neighbours agreed last month to resume cross-border oil flows and ease tensions following talks brokered by the African Union.

Both sides said they would open 10 road, rail and Nile river crossing, eight of them immediately, in fresh AU talks in Ethiopia on Tuesday.

One crossing will link South Sudan's Unity state with Heglig, home to an oilfield vital to Sudan's economy which South Sudan's army briefly occupied during last year's border skirmishes.

Landlocked South Sudan had shut down its 350,000 barrel-per-day crude output in January last year in a row over how much it should pay to send the oil through Sudanese pipelines to the Red Sea.

The agreement to resume oil flows gave a lifeline to both countries' struggling economies which rely on foreign currency from oil sales and pipeline fees to import food and fuel.

Sudan expects the first oil cargo from South Sudan to arrive next week, state media said on Monday.

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July 2011 under a 2005 peace deal which ended one of Africa's longest civil wars. The two remain at loggerheads over control of disputed territories such as the border region of Abyei. (Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Andrew Heavens)

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