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Bashir threatens again to stop oil exports from South Sudan

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C) arrives at the African Union Headquarters for the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C) arrives at the African Union Headquarters for the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Friday threatened again to stop oil flows across its border with arch-rival South Sudan unless the south stops supporting rebels operating across the shared frontier.

Khartoum said two weeks ago it would close within 60 days two pipelines carrying oil exports from landlocked South Sudan to Port Sudan unless Juba cut ties with Sudanese rebels. The south denies doing so, and accuses Sudan in turn of backing insurgents on its soil.

The two neighbors agreed in March to restart oil flows and end hostilities plaguing them since South Sudan became an independent state in 2011.

"They (South Sudan) only want to implement the oil deal," Bashir told a congress of his National Congress Party. "As long as these people do not execute all agreements by 100 percent no barrel of oil will be piped to Port Sudan."

Under the March deal, both sides were meant to boost bilateral trade, improve border security and set up a buffer zone along their disputed boundary to defuse tensions, after coming close to war in April 2012.

But both armies still maintain troops and tanks inside the zone in violation of the deals, the Satellite Sentinel Project, a U.S. activist group, said in a report.

Showing satellite images, the group said South Sudan's army had still checkpoints or camps in at least nine locations near the southern side of the border. Sudan's forces had positions in at least five places where tanks or artillery could be seen.

Sudan has said that it will allow the export of oil already piped to Port Sudan, part of which is owned by Asian firms China National Petroleum Corp, India's ONCG Videsh and Malaysia's Petronas.

Diplomats doubt Sudan will actually close the pipelines because its economy has been suffering without South Sudan's pipeline fees. Juba also depends on oil.

(Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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