, JUBA, May 21 – Sudan and South Sudan will this week set a date to restart face-to-face peace talks after bitter border conflict and the missing of a UN deadline, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki said Monday.
Mbeki, a former South African president, heads the AU mediation team for the talks, which were suspended after heavy clashes last month between former civil war foes in Khartoum and Juba.
“I am quite sure that within this week we will agree on a date,” Mbeki told reporters in the South Sudanese capital, after meeting with President Salva Kiir.
Mbeki has embarked on rounds of shuttle diplomacy between the two capitals, and was flying back to Khartoum after his day visit to Juba.
“We are going back to Khartoum, we will consult there… It is important that our panel convene the two parties as urgently as possible,” Mbeki added.
Sudan and South Sudan did not comply with a United Nations Security Council demand that they resume the talks by last Wednesday. The South has said it is ready to talk and accused Khartoum of stalling.
The South separated last July with about 75 percent of the former united Sudan’s oil production, but Juba still depends on the north’s pipeline and Red Sea port to export its crude.
A protracted dispute over fees for use of that infrastructure led South Sudan in January to shut its oil production after accusing the north of theft.
The Security Council gave both sides three months to conclude the talks.