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Ethiopia PM in Khartoum to Push Sudan-South Sudan Peace

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KHARTOUM, Sudan - Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday to bolster peace efforts between Sudan and South Sudan, official media said.

"The Ethiopian prime minister's visit comes in the context of the Ethiopian endeavors to push ahead the peace process between Sudan and South Sudan," Khartoum's presidential press secretary Emad Sayed Ahmed told the SUNA news agency.

Desalegn will travel to South Sudan on Thursday, SUNA reported.

Khartoum and Juba have failed to implement crucial security and economic agreements they signed in September and hailed as ending conflict.

The deals, reached after African Union-led talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, called for a jointly-monitored demilitarized buffer zone and a resumption of South Sudanese oil exports through northern pipelines.

They also allowed for a reopening of border points for general trade, after the two countries fought a war along their undemarcated frontier in March and April.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting an insurgency in Sudan's border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which has been a major obstacle to implementing the agreements.

The South, in turn, says Sudan backs rebels on southern territory.

But after the latest round of talks in Addis Ababa this month, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki said "a major step forward" on security had been taken.

Another meeting is planned for Jan. 13.

Separately, Sudan and South Sudan still need to reach a deal on the final status of the flashpoint Abyei region, as well as on other disputed points along the frontier.

The South separated in July 2011 under a peace agreement that ended a 1983-2005 civil war.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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