Ali Ahmed Karti, Sudanese Foreign Minister
Khartoum, Sudan – Sudan has made it clear it will not tolerate any US involvement in its dispute with South Sudan over Abyei, an oil rich triangle the two countries are contesting.
This leaves the matter in the hands of the African Union (AU) and in line with agreements the two sides signed a year ago under the AU supervision, according to the Sudanese Foreign Minister, Ali Ahmed Karti.
Karti criticized remarks by the new US Special Envoy, Donald Booth, on Abyei, saying that Booth had nothing to do with the Abyei issue.
Karti said the Abyei question was strictly an issue for Sudan and South Sudan to resolve.
According to the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA), Karti was commenting at Khartoum airport just before his departure to Brussels, Belgium, Saturday night.
Booth’s remarks were made at a meeting he held on Saturday, the first day of his arrival in Sudan, with Al-Khair Al-Fahim, the Sudanese co-chairman of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC).
The US envoy was quoted by SUNA as telling Fahim that he was in Sudan to assess the position of the Missairiyah tribe and their opinion on a settlement to the Abyei question which the envoy described as “thorny” — a description Karti said was “irrelevant to the reality and only an exaggeration”.
Booth said he would concentrate, during his assignment, mainly on the standing issues between Sudan and South Sudan in addition to the relations between his country and the Sudan.
Karti said the US envoy had “no role to play on the Abyei issue” for which he said there was an agreement signed by Presidents Omar Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir Mayardit, providing specific steps for reaching a final settlement to the issue.
“The Sudan will not accept any interference by the US envoy in Sudan’s internal affairs unless such interference is for improving the Sudanese relations with South Sudan or with the US,” the agency quoted Karti as saying.
Karti noted that the US, “which has not improved its relations with the Sudan, is not qualified to play a mediation role between Sudan and South Sudan.”
He said the African Union (AU) was the only mediator on issues between the Sudan and South Sudan, adding that his country “will reject any other mediator”.
Relations between Sudan and the US went sour since Washington placed Sudan on the list of countries it considered sponsors of international terrorism in August 1993.
However, the relations witnessed a relative improvement shortly before the conclusion of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), up to 2011 when a referendum was organized resulting in the creation of South Sudan.
Sources said Khartoum expected to see the dividends of its cooperation with the US in both cases, but nothing materialized as Sudan was neither removed from the list nor had the economic sanctions imposed by the Americans lifted.
Sudan has an ambassador in the US but the Americans have only a Charge D’affaires in Khartoum.