By Abdullah Uluyurt
KHARTOUM (AA) - Sudanese Trade Minister Hatem al-Sar on Wednesday announced the resumption of cross-border commercial traffic with South Sudan following a seven-year hiatus.
According to local media reports, the two countries have now resumed full border services in Sudan’s White Nile Province and South Sudan’s Upper Nile region.
Al-Sar told reporters in Khartoum that the decision to reopen the border to commercial traffic had been ordered directly by President Omar al-Bashir.
“The resumption of legal cross-border commerce will strike a blow against smuggling,” the trade minister said, adding that Sudan was “open to dialogue with all its neighbors”.
Cross-border trade had remained suspended since South Sudan declared independence from its northern neighbor following a popular referendum in 2011.
Despite ongoing differences between the two countries, Khartoum and Abuja signed a wide-ranging cooperation protocol -- governing the transport, commerce, security and oil sectors -- in 2013.