Khartoum - President Al Bashir arrived in Juba yesterday leading a high level delegation on one-day official visit. He was received at Juba airport by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, senior South Sudan government officials and diplomatic missions accredited in Juba.
Upon arrival, Al Bashir and Kiir held a closed meeting that focused on Abyei issue, security arrangements and the implementation of the cooperation agreements between the two counties.
The ministers accompanying President Al Bashir also held meetings with their southern counterparts to discuss joint issues. Economic sector ministers in the two countries discussed joint cooperation agreements and the economic sector issues within the framework of the implementation matrix of the cooperation agreements between Khartoum and Juba.
Ministers of Petroleum of the two countries Dr. Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz and Stephen Dhiu have emphasized the importance of economic relations between the two countries especially in the field of oil.
Speaking to reporters, Minister Al-Jaz described President Al Bashir's visit to Juba as a qualitative shift and will further strengthen relations between the two nations. He said the visit gave a positive indication that the economies of the two countries will improve in various areas.
There are a lot of areas for exchange of benefits between the two countries, Sudan can buy South Sudan's oil and South Sudan and benefit from Sudan's refinery facilities and electricity generation, Dr. Al-Jaz said.
The Minister also stressed the importance of opening border crossings between the two countries for movement of oil.
Stephen Dhiu, for his part, described the outcome of the meetings of the joint committee as positive and fruitful, stating that the two countries do not face major obstacles in the field of oil production and export.
He said the two sides have agreed to activate the work of the joint committees and that the undersecretaries of the Ministries of Petroleum in the two countries have been instructed to remove obstacles to that end. The only challenge facing oil sector is the non-opening of the border crossings but preparations are under way to open the crossings to boost oil production, he said.
Simon Deng, president of South Sudan Trade Unions Association has welcomed the visit of President Al Bashir to South Sudan describing the visit as significant, adding that it comes within the framework of ongoing efforts to strengthen relations between the two countries. He said the visit was widely welcomed in South Sudan.
In Juba, the two Presidents have agreed in their closed meeting to overcome all obstacles and to establish a mechanism to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries.
The summit meeting between the two Presidents which was concluded yesterday focused on the progress of implementation of the cooperation agreements and issues of mutual concern.
The two sides issued a joint communiqué in which they affirmed their commitment to speed up efforts to open the border crossings, activate joint administration and joint coordination to lift sanctions imposed on the two countries.
With regard to Abyei, the joint statement underlined the need to establish Abyei Administration, legislative council and police units. The statement also underscored the importance of continued consultation between the two presidents to resolve outstanding issues.
Meanwhile, President Al Bashir has described his meeting with Salva Kiir as fruitful, honest and brotherly, stating that the two countries have laid a strong groundwork for their ties after ending Africa's longest war.
Secession of South Sudan is not the end of relations between the two countries, it is a new beginning for stronger ties, President Al Bashir said. He added that his visit to Juba is an extension of the successful visit undertaken by President Salva Kiir to Khartoum last month.
In the same vein, President Salva Kiir has welcomed the visit of President Al Bashir to Juba and reiterated his commitment to the implementation of the cooperation agreements concluded between the two countries.
By Zuleikha Abdul Raziq
(Sudan Vision Daily)