Moscow is deeply concerned over the reports about the offensive undertaken by the armed units of the Sudanese People's Liberation Forces against the township of Torit in the south of Sudan and the establishment of control over it. This was reported by the press and information department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
It is especially regrettable, the report says, that these actions were taken against the background of the continuing second round of the inter-Sudanese negotiations in Machakos (Kenya) under the aegis of IGAD (the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development for the East Asian countries.) During these negotiations a serious progress has already been achieved in resolving a number of issues which in the course of many years were a kind of stumbling-block for achieving accord between the conflicting sides.
It is also obvious, the report points out, that the attempt of one of the sides to expand the sphere of its military control at the expense of the other one does not contribute to the successful progress of the negotiating process but, more than that, they put in question the very possibility of its further advance.
Taking this fact into account, Moscow expects, the report says, that concrete steps will soon be taken to withdraw the units of the Sudanese armed forces to the positions which they occupied before the offensive. In the future it is also necessary to observe the status quo which had arisen by the beginning of the negotiations in Machakos.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is convinced that only on this basis is it possible to ensure the resumption of these negotiations and achieve a further progress in solving the problems of the South Sudanese settlement.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.