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Demilitarized zone to be set in Sudan

Associated Press / June 1, 2011

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JUBA, Sudan — North and south Sudan have agreed to establish a jointly patrolled demilitarized border zone between the two sides as the south prepares to declare independence in July, the African Union said yesterday.

Such a buffer could lower the chances of an accidental north-south clash. But its implementation depends on the two sides reaching an agreement over the demarcation of the border, an issue that has long been contentious.

The deal could also be disrupted by other outstanding issues, such as the sharing of oil rights between north and south.

Alex de Waal, an adviser for the African Union who has facilitated negotiations on security issues between Sudan’s north and south regions, said the parties agreed on Monday during talks in Ethiopia’s capital to form a common, demilitarized zone stretching across the 1,300-mile north-south border.

It’s not yet known when the zone will go into effect.

The zone will stretch 6 miles north and south from the 1956 border, the tentative line drawn when Sudan became independent from Britain, according to de Waal.

De Waal told the Associated Press by phone from Addis Ababa that discussions over a third-party military monitoring body — a United Nations peacekeeping force, for instance — were still to come.

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