NEW YORK, September 28, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ ? Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon?s remarks at the Sudan-South Sudan Consultative Forum, in New York, 27 September:

I am pleased to welcome you to this Sudan-South Sudan Consultative Forum. This is our first meeting in New York. It comes just after Sudan and South Sudan have written a new page in their common history.

I welcome the agreements on security, economic relations and the common border signed in Addis Ababa today. They provide important building blocks for a stable and prosperous future for both countries. I commend President [Omar al-] Bashir and President [Salva] Kiir for again choosing peace over war.

A little more than a year ago, we welcomed South Sudan as the UN?s newest member. Sudan was the first country to recognize South Sudan?s independence ? sending a strong signal to the world that Khartoum was ready to live in peace with its new neighbour.

But, independence for South Sudan was only the first step towards building a new partnership. After two decades of civil war, this partnership is understandably fragile. I have been encouraged to see that whenever the two countries have been in danger of renewed conflict, the two leaders worked to defuse tensions instead of letting them escalate.

Regrettably, no agreement could be found for the resolution of the future status of the disputed territory of Abyei. I urge both countries to continue their efforts to resolve this issue through dialogue and avoid any unilateral decisions that would risk a return to violence.

The members of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel ? Presidents [Thabo] Mbeki, [ Pierre] Buyoya and [Abdulsalami] Abubakar ? have played an invaluable role. Let me also pay tribute to the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. I thank his successor, Hailemariam Desalgn, for carrying on his work. My Special Envoy, Haile Menkerios, and other envoys have also given their all to helping the parties to find common ground on critical issues.

I remain extremely concerned over the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, as well as the inter-communal violence in South Sudan. Both Governments must urgently confront human rights violations and the suffering of all civilians caught in conflict by addressing impunity and holding the perpetrators accountable. Humanitarian aid must reach all people in need of assistance. Respect for human rights is essential for lasting peace.

I also urge both Governments to do everything possible to end these conflicts through peaceful means. Internal conflicts can only be addressed when Governments seriously face the grievances that are causing tensions. I urge them to lead the constitutional review processes with vision and flexibility. This will nurture political and institutional conditions conducive to the resolution of these conflicts.

Sudan and South Sudan now must carry out their agreements and finalize others on outstanding issues. By working together in peace, they can improve the lives of their peoples. The international community must continue providing assistance. I especially call on donors to consider debt relief and financial support for both countries. We all have an interest in two economically viable States.

Peace in Sudan and South Sudan is indispensable for the region and the world. The United Nations will do everything possible to assist both countries. We will continue our fruitful collaboration with the African Union and other partners. Together, we can help Sudan and South Sudan embark on a path to a more hopeful, prosperous and stable future. Thank you very much.



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