INTERVIEW-Sudan says oil deal with south depends on security pact
By Ulf Laessing and Alexander Dziadosz
KHARTOUM Jan 18 (Reuters) - Sudan will continue to take a share of oil from South Sudan to compensate for what it calls unpaid transit fees and said an oil deal was unlikely without an agreement on border and security issues, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.
South Sudan became Africa's newest nation in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war between north and south, but many issues remain unresolved, including oil, debt and violence on both sides of the poorly-defined border.
Tensions escalated last week when Khartoum said it had started confiscating oil from landlocked South Sudan, which exports its crude through Sudan's pipelines to a port on the Red Sea.
Sudan's economy has been badly hit by the loss of two-thirds of oil production to the South, and the country is under pressure to ease the hardships of people already exhausted by years of conflict, inflation and a U.S. trade embargo.
The two sides were meant to conclude an oil agreement that would see them sharing revenues, with the south paying fees to export its oil through the north.
The African Union is sponsoring talks between the two countries this week, but Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti dampened hopes of a quick deal, rejecting the south's criticism of its move as "childish."
"If they are not ready to sit down and conclude an agreement, we will take our right. We will take our entitlements," he told Reuters in an interview.
"Nobody can hamper us from taking our right. This is our entitlement," Karti said. Continued...