||Last Updated: Feb 13, 2011 - 7:24:29 AM
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - East African leaders attending the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on Sudan said Tuesday the right environment had been created to work towards an eventual solution to the outstanding issues likely to affect a smooth referendum in the country, PANA reported.
'We made progress in creating the right environment for the talks to progress,' IGAD Chairman Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, told journalists after the summit in Addis Ababa, to discuss ways of resolving the thorny issue of Abyei, the oil-rich district claimed by both north and South Sudan.
The leaders were too cautious to dictate a solution to Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir and Vice President Salva Kiir on the Abyei issue and on the conduct of the referendum on South Sudan.
The IGAD Summit referred the Abyei issue to the African Union High-Level Panel, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, and asked the two Sudanese leaders present to cooperate.
'We have left the issue of Abyei to the Panelâ¦it is a hard nut to crack but not as difficult as the overall Southern Sudan issue,' Meles said, hinting at the difficulties of resolving the crisis in the Sudan.
The leaders were categorical that the two sides must reach a comprehensive solution on the Abyei issue and the other disputed areas, covering the Nuba Mountains, the Blue Nile and the South Kordofan states, which have been unresolved and whi c h now threaten the peace process.
Specifically, the leaders said they were deeply worried by the delay in demarcating the north-South border and requested the Sudanese leaders to ensure the border demarcation is done on time.
'The summit was particularly encouraged by the parties' commitment in achieving in the event of the secession of Southern Sudan, two viable states, living as peaceful and cooperative neighbours that maintain common security as well as a 'soft border' between the North and South that forges cooperation without disruption to the livelihoods of the people,' an IGAD communique stated.
An ambassador who attended the talks said the resolutions reached during the summit were the best under the circumstances.
'You do not want to be seen taking sides when talks are still underway. The talks have created the right environment,' said the ambassador, who could not be quoted commenting on discussions of higher authorities.
Addis Ababa - Pana 24/11/2010
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