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Bashir ready to free south Sudan of debt

JUBA, Jan 10 – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is ready for the north to take on all of the country\’s 38-billion-dollar debt, freeing the war-ravaged south of any liabilities if it votes for independence, ex-US president Jimmy Carter said on Monday.

"I spoke with President al-Bashir. He said the entire debt should be assigned to north Sudan and not to the southern part," Carter told CNN in an interview.

"So, in a way, southern Sudan is starting with a clean sheet on debt. They\’ll have to make some arrangement for other sources of income, of course," he added.

Carter met the Sudanese president in Khartoum on Saturday before flying down to the southern regional capital Juba for the first day of a week-long referendum on independence for the south.

With former UN chief Kofi Annan, he is chairing a delegation of poll observers from his Carter Centre foundation.

The ravages of the 1983-2005 civil war have left south Sudan one of the poorest regions of the world. It is heavily dependent on foreign aid.

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