January 28, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) –The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir met today with the chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin and briefed him on the ongoing negotiations with the south regarding the oil dispute.
- Jia Qinglin, chairman and party secretary of the National Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Committee (Reuters)
Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti said the meeting was made at the request of Khartoum particularly since Beijing expressed concern in the past on the recent developments following South Sudan’s decision to stop oil production.
Karti referred to previous discussions that were conducted with the Chinese Foreign Minister on the need to find a solution.
Sudan’s top diplomat said that Bashir told Qinglin about Juba’s “stubbornness” and its rejection of all solutions presented by mediators forcing the Sudanese government to take its share of oil without the south’s permission to satisfy financial arrears.
From 2005 until July 2011 South Sudan’s oil was split almost by half between north and south. Like many other post-independence issues, negotiations between the former foes have not yielded any major breakthroughs on oil, borders, national debt, assets and the disputed territory of Abyei.
In late last year Sudan decided to confiscate part of South Sudan’s oil claiming the latter owes around $1 billion in unpaid fees. Juba denies this saying it has paid the fees dismissing Khartoum’s offer of a $32 fee per barrel, arguing that it should pay a lower rate in line with international norms.
Talks between Bashir and South Sudan president Thabo Mbeki mediated in Addis Ababa this week by Ethiopian Prime minister Meles Zenawi and chairman of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki appeared to have not succeeded in breaking the deadlock.
The Sudanese leader told the Chinese official that his government allowed the south to export its oil through the north without any fees for five months since it seceded in July 2011.
He called on China to pressure South Sudan and explained to Qinglin that there is danger surrounding Beijing’s investments in the country as a result of Juba’s move requiring action to protect its interests.
The state-run China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has pumped billions of dollars into developing oilfields in Sudan, 80 percent of which lie in the south.
China depends on South Sudan, a new country long suspicious of Beijing’s ties with Khartoum, for nearly five percent of its oil imports.
Karti said that Bashir received a commitment from Beijing to support Sudan’s position and maintain its investment portfolio. He added that China recognizes it was South Sudan which sought to destroy the oil facilities during the civil war years due to its unwillingness to have China dominate investments in Africa.
The foreign minister said that what is happening is an attempt by South Sudan to make China leave.
Xinhua news agency quoted Qinglin as stressing the strength of China-Sudan relations.
"China and Sudan boast a traditional friendship and they have always trusted and understood each other despite changing international landscape and situations of both countries," said Qinglin.
"China appreciates Sudan’s consistent support for China on issues of China’s core interests and major concerns, and will in turn support its efforts of maintaining national stability and developing economy," he added.
"Chinese enterprises are welcomed to invest in Sudan, and they will be protected by concrete measures," Qinglin said.