UNITED NATIONS – The Security Council called for an agreement between Sudan and South Sudan on the status of the disputed, oil-rich border region of Abyei and extended the U.N. security force's mission there by six months.
Calling the situation along the disputed border a serious security threat, the council unanimously adopted a resolution demanding the finalization of a jointly-run administration and police force for Abyei. It also demanded that Sudan immediately withdraw all security forces from Abyei, following South Sudan's removal last week of about 700 police officers.
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 nations have been drawing closer to full-scale war in recent weeks over unresolved issues of oil revenues and their disputed border.
Last week, the council threatened nonmilitary sanctions against both countries if they don't stop fighting and return to negotiations. The nations failed to meet a U.N. deadline to resume talks Wednesday.
Negotiations fell apart last month after South Sudan captured the oil-rich Sudanese town of Heglig, which has since been retaken by Sudan.
However, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said violence has dropped significantly over the past week and aerial bombings have stopped. She cited a new report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy to Sudan, Haile Menkerios.
The U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei, which includes about 4,000 peacekeepers, was created last year after Sudan seized control of Abyei before South Sudan gained independence.
South Sudan's ambassador to the U.N., Francis Nazario, welcomed Thursday's resolution and called on Sudan to pull its troops from Abyei. But Sudan's deputy U.N. ambassador, Idris Ismail Faragalla Hassan, said any troop withdrawal should happen simultaneously and be monitored by an international body.
"South Sudan took a piecemeal approach, not the comprehensive approach that the government of Sudan is calling for," Hassan said.