7 Jan 2014

Both Sudans keen to protect oilfields

7:48 pm on 7 January 2014

Leaders of Sudan and South Sudan - bitter enemies during South Sudan's independence war - have met to discuss joining forces in order to protect the southern oilfields from rebel seizure.

The oilfields are vital to both African nations.

Presidents Omar al-Bashir, left, and Salva Kiir.

Presidents Omar al-Bashir, left, and Salva Kiir. Photo: AFP

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir said he wants to get a better idea of what Khartoum's role should be to end the armed conflict between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir's government and rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar, who was sacked.

At least 1000 people have been killed since violence erupted on 15 December last year after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of attempting a coup - an allegation he denies, the BBC reports.

Nearly 200,000 people have been displaced in the conflict, which has taken on ethnic undertones. Mr Kiir is from the majority Dinka community and Mr Machar from the Nuer group.

On Monday, Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Karti said Mr Bashir and Mr Kiir were "in consultations about the deployment of a mixed force to protect the oilfields in the South".

However, neither of the presidents referred to the proposal during their joint news conference in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

When it seceded from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan ended up with most of the oilfields.