Clinton calls for Sudan compromise
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has urged leaders of South Sudan and their counterparts in the north to quickly reach agreement on oil revenue and other pressing issues to resolve differences that threaten to reignite a decades-long conflict.
Mrs Clinton flew to South Sudan's capital of Juba for a brief visit to congratulate the nascent nation on its anniversary and offer US support but, more importantly, to stress the urgency of ending disputes with Sudan over oil and territory.
Those disputes have led to clashes between the two countries which many fear could have an impact upon the 2005 peace deal that ended what was then Africa's longest-running civil war.
"While South Sudan and Sudan have become separate states, their fortunes and their futures remain inextricably linked," Mrs Clinton said at a news conference. "Now it is urgent that both sides, north and south, follow through and reach timely agreements on all outstanding issues. The people of South Sudan expect it."
The two sides had faced a UN Security Council deadline on Thursday to reach agreement on the issues or face possible sanctions, but the council deferred action.
Before Mrs Clinton's visit, a senior US official said Mrs Clinton would express concern about a "lack of movement" in resolving the situation but also reaffirm America's strong support for South Sudan, the world's newest nation. The US was instrumental in helping to negotiate the 2005 peace agreement and the official said Washington is "heavily invested" in its success.
The disputes, particularly over oil revenue, have led to severe economic problems in both Sudan and South Sudan. But the South, which celebrated its first year as an independent nation last month, is in a more precarious situation as it is more heavily dependent on outside assistance.
Mrs Clinton urged the two sides to reach an interim agreement on oil revenue sharing so revenue would start flowing again.
"A percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing," she said at a news conference with Nhial Deng Nhial, South Sudan's foreign minister.
Mr Nhial said his government wants the US to continue its support and to exert pressure on Sudan to accept the proposals South Sudan has made.