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Sudan 'won't take on south's debt'

11 January 2011, 14:52

Khartoum - Khartoum has denied it will take on Sudan's entire debt to free an independent south of any liabilities, after former US president Jimmy Carter said he received assurances the north would do so.

Sudan's foreign ministry "categorically refuted the statements of the former US president Jimmy Carter to CNN... that the president of the republic told him Sudan's entire indebtedness would be carried by north Sudan," the official Suna news agency reported late on Monday.

Carter had told the US TV news channel after meeting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Saturday that the president said the country's entire external debt of around $38bn should be assigned to north Sudan.

But foreign ministry spokesperson Khalid Musa said Bashir had repeated to Carter Sudan's "strong call on the international community" to write off the country's heavy debt burden, according to Suna.

North and south Sudan "do not have enough resources to pay these debts, taking into consideration the expected exhaustion and decrease of the north's oil revenues", as well as the economic difficulties the south faces if it votes for secession, he said.

Musa said the payment of Sudan's debt was a joint responsibility of the north and south and one of the pending issues in the negotiations between the two sides.

Sudan is struggling to cope with what the World Bank last month described as "the enormous challenge of its debt problem".

Its foreign debt amounted to $37.8bn in 2010, according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, mostly in arrears.

The ravages of the 1983-2005 civil war have left south Sudan one of the poorest regions of the world and heavily dependent on foreign aid.


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