- Sudan's president OKs the opening of all borders with newly independent South Sudan
- The two nations have been at odds on a number of issues, including their border
- Al-Bashir tells his ambassador normalizing relations is a priority, state news reports
Despite periodic violence and continued unresolved issues, Sudan's president on Sunday authorized the reopening of all border crossings with South Sudan, state news reported.
President Omar al-Bashir ordered the reopening of all passages -- by land, water and air -- between his African nation and its newly independent neighbor South Sudan, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported.
The president met Sunday with Foreign Minister Ali Ahmad Karti and Mutrif Sadiq, Sudan's recently appointed ambassador to South Sudan, to ask his help in carrying out the directives and make normalizing relations between the two countries a priority.
Sadiq said after the meeting that he had been instructed by the president "to work together with the concerned authorities" to reopen the borders, SUNA reported.
Sudan was embroiled in a bloody two-decade civil war that ended with a peace agreement in 2005. A referendum six years later led to South Sudan's secession, which became official in July 2011.
The two nations, however, have remained at odds since then on a number of hot-button issues. Their leaders have faced international pressure, from the likes of the United Nations and the African Union, to resolve their disputes and come to a lasting agreement.
They made some headway toward that end late last month -- though the deal they reached failed to address a number of disputes.
During talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, al-Bashir and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir agreed to resume oil exports and set up a demilitarized zone, as well as principles related to border demarcation. Yet they could not reach a deal on the status of Abyei, a disputed region claimed by both countries, which has been a contentious issue since the South declared independence on July 9 of last year.
The partial agreement was applauded by, among others, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. President Barack Obama.
Sudan and South Sudan have been under increasing pressure from the African Union and Security Council to resolve the matter peacefully.
In April, Sudan and South Sudan slipped close to all-out war with a series of tit-for-tat air raids and ground attacks that prompted the African Union and Security Council to push the two sides to act.
Still, the recent political progress has not stopped violence in the region.
Last week, four peacekeepers with the African Union-United Nations Mission in Sudan's Darfur region were killed and eight injured in an ambush by unidentified attackers.
UNAMID Force Commander and officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba condemned what he called a "criminal attack," demanding Sudan's government "bring the perpetrators to justice."