Sudan confirmed on Sunday that it will delay the closure of an economically vital pipeline carrying South Sudanese oil.

Ethiopia, which is helping to negotiate between Sudan and South Sudan, had already announced the delay on Friday.

Sudan's official SUNA news agency said the oil ministry notified petroleum companies "about the change in the date for shutting down (the) South Sudan oil pipeline from August 7-22 in response to the call of the African mediator".

The decision followed a visit to Khartoum on Thursday by Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Thabo Mbeki, the African Union's top mediator between Sudan and South Sudan.

Ethiopia chairs the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional bloc.

After talks with President Omar al-Bashir, Mbeki said he asked for more time so the AU can investigate allegations made by both Sudan and South Sudan that they are supporting rebels operating in each other's territory.

In June, Khartoum told oil companies they had 60 days to stop transporting crude from South Sudan through a Sudanese export pipeline after Bashir accused the Juba government of backing rebels in the north.

But the oil was still flowing as of last week, according to a source close to the oil industry.

To be done carefully without damaging the infrastructure any shutdown would need 45 days, an oil analyst has said.

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