KHARTOUM - Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Wednesday he was ready to meet his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir to try to move forward with setting up a demilitarized border zone and restart oil flows.
His comments raise the prospect that the two could set aside their differences after signing agreements in September meant to secure their disputed border and to allow the South to resume oil exports after the two came close to war in April in the worst violence since Juba seceded last year.
However, neither country has yet withdrawn its army from either side of their shared border, a precondition to resume oil flows from the landlocked south through the north, a lifeline for both economies.
South Sudan had initially planned to resume exports by year-end after shutting down its output of 350,000 barrels a day in January after failing to agree an export fee with Sudan.
Two weeks ago, the African Union, backed by Western powers, urged Bashir and Kiir to meet as soon as possible to resolve all their disputes. Delegations from both countries are scheduled to resume talks in Ethiopia in mid-January.