The talks mainly focused on the future of Saudi-Sudanese relations with special reference to a referendum in Sudan that may eventually create a new nation in Africa.
“Taha briefed Crown Prince Sultan on the latest political developments in Sudan, especially concerning the south Sudan referendum,” said Osama Mahjoob Hassan, spokesman for the Sudanese Embassy, after the talks.
He said Taha also discussed with Prince Sultan the progress of “bilateral relations and ways of bolstering relations and cooperation further.”
Hassan said the two leaders talked about “regional and international issues of mutual concern.” Peace and stability as well as “building a better Sudan and a better Africa” were also discussed, he added.
Taha’s visit and the talks with top-ranking Saudi officials come within “the framework of bilateral consultations,” Sudanese Ambassador Abdel Hafiz Ibrahim said in a statement.
President Omar Bashir sent Taha to Saudi Arabia and dispatched his adviser Ibrahim Ahmed Omer to Jordan and Syria as personal envoys to hold consultations and deliver messages related to the developments in Sudan including the referendum, said the diplomat.
Former US President Jimmy Carter told CNN on Monday that Bashir had offered to take on all of the country’s crippling debt if the south seceded. The offer, if confirmed, would be a significant conciliatory gesture from Bashir and would lift a huge fiscal burden from the south in the early days of its expected independence.
Thousands of voters meanwhile queued up for a second day of voting that continued peacefully across southern Sudan. The final results are expected by Feb. 15, with preliminary results a week earlier.
“Yesterday I tried my best but it was too much for me. Queues were too long. People were too emotional. Everyone wants to be first to decide his destiny,” said Salah Mohamed, waiting outside a booth on the outskirts of the southern capital Juba.
“Today I could vote but still as you can see the crowds are still there … I think the commission might need to extend the voting days.”
The referendum’s organizing commission said 20 percent of registered southerners had already cast their vote. The turnout needs to be 60 percent for the result to be valid.
Leaders in the contested oil-rich Abyei region said Monday that at least 36 people have died in clashes between northern nomads and southerners near the north-south border.
Analysts say the central region of Abyei is the most likely place for north-south tensions to erupt into violence during and after the vote, the climax of a troubled peace deal that ended decades of civil war.
Senior southern official Luka Biong official condemned the fighting and told Reuters both sides were still trying to settle their bitter dispute over the ownership of Abyei as part of a package of negotiations, including how the regions will share oil revenues after a split.
The violence in Abyei followed a warning to both northern and southern leaders from US President Barack Obama not to use proxy forces over the voting period, highlighting international concerns that both sides might be resorting to tactics used in past campaigns.
Leading members of Abyei’s Dinka Ngok tribe, linked to the south, accused Khartoum of arming the area’s Misseriya militias in clashes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and said they were expecting more attacks in days to come.
The speaker of the Abyei administration, Charles Abyei, said the Misseriya attacked because they had heard false rumors the Dinka were about to declare themselves part of the south.
“A large number of Misseriya attacked Maker village yesterday (Sunday), backed by government militia … The first day one person died, the second day nine, yesterday 13 … It will continue,” he said.
Misseriya leader Mokhtar Babo Nimr told Reuters 13 of his men had died in Sunday’s clash and accused southerners of starting the fighting.
Residents of the Abyei region were promised their own referendum on whether to join the north or the south but leaders could not agree on how to run the poll and the vote did not take place as planned Sunday.
— With input from agencies

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