KHARTOUM - South Sudan said on Thursday it was ready to reopen negotiations "any time" on a range of disputes with its northern neighbour Sudan after a spasm of fighting, but Khartoum said there could be no such talks unless the two sides settled security issues.
The two countries have been at loggerheads over oil, security and frontier disputes that ignited border clashes last month and for a while raised fears of full-blown war in one of Africa's most significant oil regions.
South Sudan Minister of Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor told reporters that his country, which became independent from Sudan last year, was committed to complying with a U.N. Security Council resolution last week that called on both countries to negotiate their differences peacefully or face sanctions.
"We are ready to go for negotiations any time ... I expect negotiations to resume any time from now," Alor told a news conference in the South Sudanese capital Juba.
The May 2 Security Council resolution endorsed an African Union plan demanding that Khartoum and Juba cease hostilities, withdraw troops from disputed areas and resume talks within two weeks on all outstanding disputes. It gave them three months to resolve the issues under threat of sanctions.
But the north's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who accuses South Sudan of supporting rebel militia along the disputed border, said there would be no talks unless the civil war foes resolved their security issues.
"In the coming negotiations, if we don't solve the security problems ... there will be no talk over any other clause - not oil, not trade, not citizenship, not Abyei, or any other file," Bashir told a group of oil and mining workers on Thursday.
Sudan on Wednesday said its army had liberated the areas of Kafen Dabbi and Kafya Kenji in South Darfur from the "remnants of the Southern army". South Sudan contests these areas. The army also repelled rebels who had seized control of a town in south Darfur, as part of their campaign to topple Bashir.