Obama Urges South Sudan, Sudan No to Return to War

Posted April 21st, 2012 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has urged the governments and people of Sudan and South Sudan to resume peaceful negotiations and avoid a return to war.

In a video message posted on the Internet site YouTube late Friday, Mr. Obama called on the people of both nations to turn away from further armed conflict.

“It does not have to be this way. Conflict is not inevitable. You still have a choice. You still have a chance to avoid being dragged back into war, which only leads to one place: more suffering, more refugees, more deaths, more lost dreams for you and your children.”

Mr. Obama's call came after more than a week of military skirmishes along the border between the two Sudans. It follows a day of celebration in Sudan, where citizens and leaders cheered the government's claim that the military has retaken control of oil fields in Heglig from South Sudan.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir led a victory rally Friday in the capital, Khartoum, while jubilant troops celebrated in the disputed area of Heglig.

But South Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations, Agnes Oswaha, said Friday that southern forces were still in complete control of Heglig, which they seized on April 10, sparking fears of all-out war between the two countries.

The government in Juba said its forces will soon completely withdraw from the region, but the status of the area, and of other contested regions, should be determined by international arbitration.

The two Sudans have not been able to resolve disputes over borders, oil and citizenship stemming from the south's independence last July.

Before their separation, north and south Sudan fought a 21-year civil war, in which about two million people were killed.