I am very pleased to open this second ministerial meeting of the Sudan-South Sudan Consultative Forum.
The last Forum was held on the day Sudan and South Sudan signed nine groundbreaking Cooperation Agreements designed to lay the foundations for future security and prosperity.
I commend the efforts made by the two countries to normalise their relations. I encourage them to continue to implement these agreements, as both Presidents pledged during their recent summit in Khartoum.
The African Union Peace and Security Council, the AU Commission and the AU High-level Implementation Panel are providing important assistance to the parties. Let me pay tribute to the very important work being done by President Mbeki and our own Haile Menkerios in this regard.
And the mechanisms and initiatives proposed by the AU have greatly contributed to sustaining the peace process.
The United Nations, through its Special Envoy and its Missions on the ground, stands in full support of the African Union.
Much still needs to be done for Sudan and South Sudan to achieve good relations and cooperation on all issues.
It is especially important to address outstanding territorial disputes to avoid confrontations, build confidence, and achieve durable peace.
I urge both Governments to resolve the deadlock over the final status of Abyei and swiftly implement border security arrangements to avert conflict.
The United Nations remains deeply concerned about internal conflict in both countries.
In Sudan, continued fighting in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states has killed and displaced many thousands of people.
More than 1 million displaced people depend on food assistance in IDP camps.
Basic health, water and sanitation services are lacking in camps and in conflict affected areas, as you know.
Malnutrition is rife, especially in East Sudan.
We urge the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/North to resume direct talks to end the suffering, which has gone on for too long.
In Darfur, where I spent some time in the past, conflict has continued for more than 10 years. We call on all parties to work towards a lasting peace.
In South Sudan, I am deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian situation in Jonglei state, where tens of thousands of people need assistance and protection.
The UN is supporting relief efforts and working to defuse tensions and discourage violence.
The Government has an obligation to protect all civilians. And restoring its authority will entail addressing the underlying grievances of all communities.
The United Nations agrees with the African Union Peace and Security Council Summit Communiqué of 23 September.
I would like to quote from the Communiqué: “the guiding principles of democratic inclusiveness and unity in diversity should inform the goals and processes of national dialogue and constitution making in the two sovereign nations of South Sudan and Sudan.” This needs to be repeated, I think.
These principles offer the political vision that will help sustain peace and security between the two countries and restore stability within them.
We are here as partners of Sudan and South Sudan to confirm our commitment to peace, development and human rights.
I call on all members of this Forum to renew their support for the AU High Level Implementation Panel.
Let us work together to assist Sudan and South Sudan to build viable states living side by side in harmony. Thank you.