Sudan vows to protect mainland workers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2012, 12:00am

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Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti said in Hong Kong yesterday that his country would do what it could to protect Chinese workers there, although it had yet to implement any concrete measures.

The issue of Chinese nationals' safety was raised in Karti's meetings in Beijing this week after 29 Chinese workers were kidnapped in January.

'I gave our assurances to protect those workers and those investments and equipment and we are discussing how we can handle this matter together with the Chinese government,' he said.

While no concrete measures had been taken at the moment, Sudanese authorities said they conduct consultations to see what was needed to improve the situation, he said.

January's mass kidnapping was the fourth abduction of Chinese nationals in the country. Five Chinese workers were killed when they were abducted in 2008.

Karti (pictured) was in Hong Kong to meet Sudan's honorary consul Peter Lee Yue-chuen and to invite investments to develop the country's 'massive' natural resources.

During his three-day visit to Beijing, he sought the mainland's in negotiating oil transport fees with newly independent South Sudan.

'We are looking for ideas to help end the impasse ... China is our big partner in oil and it has its share of oil in both countries, so it can help us resolve the problem,' he said.

While in Beijing, Vice-President Xi Jinping told him of China's concerns over growing tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, hoped the neighbours could resovle the dispute 'at an early date'.

Karti told Xi that Sudan would solve its differences with its southern neighbour through negotiations.

The dispute has affected oil supplies to China, which receives 5 per cent of its oil from Sudan.

Tensions rose in January after Khartoum began taking oil from its landlocked southern neighbour, which exports its crude via Sudan's pipelines to a port on the Red Sea.

South Sudan said Sudan had stolen more than US$800 million worth of oil since December and the south shut down its entire production of 350,000 barrels a day in protest.

Beijing, the biggest investor in oil infrastructure in both countries, sent an envoy to both nations in December to help bridge their differences.