Top negotiators for Sudan and South Sudan have held their first talks since deadly border fighting last month took them to the brink of war, even as Juba accused Khartoum of fresh air strikes.

Teams from both sides are in the Ethiopian capital for African Union-led talks which were stalled by heavy clashes last month, the worst fighting since the South won independence last July.

Khartoum stressed on Tuesday its “commitment to reach a negotiated settlement to all issues of differences” and promised “its full adherence to peace and stability between the two countries”, it said in a statement released as talks began.

Southern President Salva Kiir said ahead of the Tuesday talks that “amicable dialogue on the outstanding issues with Khartoum is the only option for peace”.

Khartoum, in an apparent peace gesture, reported it had pulled out troops from the contested Abyei region to end a year-long occupation, a Lebanon-sized area whose ownership is key for both Juba and Khartoum.

A U.N. spokesman confirmed the pullout, which was in line with a U.N. Security Council demand for both sides to demilitarise the territory.


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