KHARTOUM — North and South Sudan agreed on Sunday to open 10 crossings along their common border, which has been closed for months, at the first high-level meeting since the south declared independence in July.
"Today we agreed to open 10 border crossings, to facilitate the movement of people and communication between the people of the two countries," Sudan's Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein told reporters in Khartoum.
Hussein's southern counterpart John Kong described the meeting, which was brokered by the African Union mediation panel led by South Africa's former president Thabo Mbeki, as "successful."
Just last week, South Sudan's information minister complained that a cargo blockade, imposed by Khartoum in May, was stoking runaway inflation, a major challenge facing the fledgling nation.
The two sides agreed on Sunday to meet next month, after consultations by the joint technical committee responsible for border demarcation, to decide where to locate the 10 crossing points.
The security and demarcation Sudan's vast border with its newly independent neighbour remains one of the key unresolved issues since partition, especially given the three conflicts that have erupted in the border region in recent months.
In July, 300 UN-sanctioned Ethiopian troops were assigned to monitor a demilitarised buffer zone stretching 10 kilometres (six miles) either side of the volatile, 2,000 kilometre-long (1,250 mile) border.
Ongoing fighting in Sudan's border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, between the army and ex-rebels with strong ties to the south, have prompted Khartoum to accuse the south of supplying the rebels and fomenting unrest in the north.
Juba strongly denies the claims, which Sudan's defence minister downplayed on Sunday.
"There are no allegations against the government of South Sudan and there are no differences between us on Blue Nile and South Kordofan," Hussein said.
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