China urges end to Sudan, South Sudan oil tussle

12 December 2011, Sweetcrude, Khartoum – China’s Special Envoy for African Affairs, Liu Guijin, has called on Sudan and South Sudan to peacefully resolve a dispute over fee that is threatening oil supplies from the recently separated countries.

China is a major customer for Sudanese crude oil and has sought to maintain good relations with both countries since South Sudan seceded in July, taking some three-quarters of the formerly united country’s 500,000 barrels per day of oil production, Reuters reported.

“China encourages the two parties to stick to the peaceful option, adopt active procedures to avoid further escalation and resolve the difference through dialogue and negotiations,” Guijin said in a statement issued by the Chinese embassy in Khartoum and cited by Xinhua.

Liu held talks with Sudan’s First Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha in Khartoum on Saturday after visiting Juba, capital of South Sudan, where he held similar talks with South Sudan’s officials, including President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Oil is vital to both Sudan and South Sudan, but they have not agreed on how much the landlocked South, which must send its oil exports through pipelines in Sudan to a port, should pay in transit fees.

Khartoum had threatened to stop South Sudan’s oil exports through Sudan if South Sudan failed to pay the oil exports’ transit fees, Reuters reported.

Late last month Sudan denied it had halted South Sudan’s oil exports but said it had confiscated crude shipments to make up for payments it claims South Sudan owes.

“The international community, including China, expresses concern towards these developments,” Liu said.

The United States, which along with Britain and Norway formed a “troika” in 2005 to support peace efforts between the two sides, said last week that new proposals in talks brokered by the African Union warranted careful consideration.

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