Arab League chief heads to Khartoum for talks

May 19, 2012 2:11 pm

, CAIRO, May 19 – Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi will travel to Sudan on Sunday, following a request from Khartoum for help over South Sudan’s invasion of the Heglig oilfield, Arabi’s deputy said.

Arabi will hold talks with President Omar al-Bashir and senior Sudanese officials, deputy Arab League chief Ahmed Ben Hilli told reporters.

“He will discuss the developments in Sudan and particularly the crisis with South Sudan, as well as developments in Darfur,” in the west, Ben Hilli said.

On Tuesday, Khartoum sent formal requests to the Arab League and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council “to discuss the aggression of South Sudan against the Heglig area,” foreign ministry spokesman, Al-Obeid Meruh, said in a statement.

The AU last week expressed alarm at last month’s occupation of Sudan’s Heglig oilfield by South Sudan’s troops and called for their immediate and unconditional withdrawal.

It also voiced grave concern at the escalating armed conflict and asked both parties to exercise “utmost restraint”.

Other members of the international community including the United Nations, the United States and the European Union too criticised the South’s occupation of Heglig. They have equally denounced Sudanese air strikes against the South.

South Sudanese troops seized Heglig oilfield on April 10 and a subsequent 10-day occupation coincided with Sudanese air raids on South Sudanese territory, leading to fears of wider war.

The fighting was the worst since South Sudan won independence last July after a 22-year civil war that ended in 2005.



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