UNITED NATIONS – Diplomats from key nations are trying to reach agreement quickly on a new U.N. resolution that would threaten non-military sanctions against Sudan or South Sudan if they don't halt fighting and return to negotiations.
Senior representatives from the five veto-wielding Security Council nations — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — and South Africa met behind closed doors Monday. Diplomats said they were close to agreement on a revised draft of the resolution proposed by the United States on Thursday.
The draft resolution endorses an African Union plan aimed at getting the two countries to step back from the brink of war and resolve their differences.
South Sudan won independence from Sudan last year as part of a 2005 peace treaty that ended decades of war that killed 2 million people. But the neighboring countries have been drawing closer to full-scale war in recent weeks over the unresolved issues of oil revenues and their disputed border, sparking alarm and condemnation from the international community.
Diplomats said the revised draft under discussion still expresses the Security Council's intention to adopt measures under Article 41 of the U.N. Charter in case of non-compliance by Sudan or South Sudan. Article 41 authorizes the council to impose non-military measures such as economic sanctions to implement its resolutions.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks have been private, said the U.S. is pressing for a quick vote.
Russia and China generally oppose sanctions and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying after meeting Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Karti in Moscow on Monday that the resolution "does not envision the use of force." At the same time, Lavrov said, "Economic influence is possible."
He was quoted as saying compliance with the Security Council "will make it possible to start the talks between Khartoum and Juba."
The 53-member African group asked the U.N. Security Council to endorse the roadmap, which demands that Sudan and South Sudan immediately cease hostilities, unconditionally withdraw all their armed forces to their side of the border, resume AU-led negotiations within two weeks, and conclude negotiations within three months.
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said last week the timeframe needs to be adjusted because "it's very short" even to call on the negotiating teams to resume talks.