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UN Security Council prods Sudan and South Sudan back to talks

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Lucas Jackson/REUTERS

(Read caption) Deng Alor Kuol, the South Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaks to the media following the passing of a United Nations Security Council resolution regarding ongoing hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan at UN headquarters in New York, May 2.

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The United Nations Security Council has voted to impose economic sanctions on Sudan and South Sudan if the two countries don’t cease their fighting immediately and go back to the negotiating table to settle their disputes over territory and oil revenues.

The two countries, which separated peacefully in July 2011 after a referendum, have been fighting a low-level war since early April, after South Sudan seized an oilfield in Heglig, a town that both Sudan and South Sudan claim. The South Sudanese assault on Heglig followed weeks of aerial bombing raids over South Sudanese territory and months of bickering over how to divide the revenues from oil that is produced in the land-locked country of South Sudan, all of which must be pumped through northern pipelines in order to reach global markets. South Sudan claims that the north, which charges $32 to $36 per barrel, is charging too much in pumping fees.

In the UN Security Council vote – which both Russia and China supported, despite initial reservations – Sudan and South Sudan must commit to a cessation of fighting within 48 hours, and immediately return to mediation over its disputes on demarcation of borders and oil-transport fees. If either country fails to do so, they face economic sanctions, such as the partial or total cutoff of rail, air, sea, postal, and electronic linkages between these countries and the rest of the world.

South Sudan welcomed the UN resolution, but Sudan said that it needed to study it.

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