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Progress on citizenship and border issues in Sudan and South Sudan?

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•  A version of this post appeared on the blog "Enough Said." The views expressed are the author's own.

In a surprising move of cooperation, South Sudan and Sudan initialed agreements on citizenship and border demarcation in the latest round of talks in Addis Ababa, in the midst of heightened tensions and rhetoric between the two countries.

The seeming pivot away from the brink by both sides was reflected in rhetoric back in Juba. South Sudan’s lead negotiator Pagan Amum sounded an optimistic note on arrival from Addis on Wednesday, saying that the initialing of the “two very important agreements” signaled “huge progress in the negotiations.”

Amum also emphasized that the two parties had committed to a new spirit of cooperation in approaching the negotiations, in which both sides would cease unilateral actions and demonstrate willingness to compromise. The talks, ongoing for over a year and a half, have produced little progress to date.

The direct involvement of the presidents of both countries will also be a facet of the new approach in the talks, according to Amum. A bilateral summit between the two heads of states will reportedly take place in Juba in the near future, at which time President Kiir and President Bashir are slated to sign the agreements.

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