South Sudanese President Kiir is in Beijing to tighten economic links to China, traditionally a close ally of Sudan's.
Sudan had “declared war” on South Sudan, that country’s president said Tuesday, after days of aerial bombing that killed two people, wounded dozens, and destroyed both civilian markets and state oil infrastructure.
President Salva Kiir’s remarks, made during a visit to China to meet its president, Hu Jintao, marked a further worsening of a weeks-long crisis that threatens to take Sudan and South Sudan back to all-out conflict.
Mr. Kiir told Mr. Hu that his visit came at “a very critical moment for the Republic of South Sudan because our neighbor in Khartoum has declared war on the Republic of South Sudan.”
He was referring to Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president, who last week vowed to revenge earlier South Sudanese incursions into his territory by “eliminating” the “insects” ruling South Sudan and “liberating” its people.
Eight bombs hit villages south of the countries’ disputed border late Monday night, South Sudanese officials said. The extent of the casualties was not immediately clear, and Sudan denied its air force dropped the weapons.
Several people were badly wounded, and one young boy was killed, when aircraft dropped three bombs earlier Monday around Bentiu town, a South Sudanese town 40 miles from the border area.
Kiir is in Beijing to tighten economic links to China, traditionally a close ally of Mr. Bashir's, whose spokesman denied Tuesday that any official declaration of war had been made.
“China sincerely hopes that South Sudan and Sudan can become good neighbors who co-exist in amity and good partners who develop together,” Hu told Kiir during their meeting, according to Chinese state television. "The urgent task is to actively cooperate with the mediation efforts of the international community and halt armed conflict in the border areas.”