Clinton meets with Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Haile-Mariam Desalegne at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh, POOL)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that the U.S. wants a peacekeeping force to be deployed to a contested region between north and south Sudan that is threatening to spark new conflict.
Clinton said the U.S. wants to see northern troops withdraw from the disputed central region of Abyei, and would welcome Ethiopian peacekeepers being sent in.
Meanwhile, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir met in Ethiopia's capital for a second day of talks over Abyei. Last month northern troops moved into the region, sending tens of thousands of residents fleeing. Abyei is fertile land near several oil fields. Both the south and north claim it as their own.
Clinton began Monday in Tanzania and later arrived in Ethiopia to address the African Union.
"We would welcome both parties agreeing to ask Ethiopia, which has volunteered to send peacekeepers and to do so as part of a United Nations mission that will be strengthened," Clinton told a news conference. "The United States has made our view very clearly known to both President Bashir and Vice President Kiir and I am looking forward to hearing positive news out of their ongoing discussions."
Southern Sudan secedes from the north July 9 but tensions have been rising over border issues.
Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said Monday that no agreement has yet been reached between Sudan's north and south. A date for northern forces to pull out of Abyei and a new peacekeeping mission are still being debated, he said. No official request has been submitted from the north and south for Ethiopia to lead a peacekeeping mission, he said.
North and south Sudan ended more than two decades of civil war with a 2005 peace accord that gave the south the right to a secession vote. It did so in January; the process is to be completed July 9.