Sudan rejects UN Security Council involvement in efforts to end weeks of border clashes with South Sudan, which has claimed to have repelled Sudan backed rebels in overnight fighting.
"Sudan confirms that it rejects any efforts to disturb the African Union role and take the situation between Sudan and South Sudan to the UN Security Council," Ali Karti, foreign minister, said on Saturday after a month of deadly clashes between the two nations have international concerns of full-blown war.
The African Union (AU) itself, in a decision last Tuesday, asked the Security Council to endorse its demand that the two Sudans halt hostilities within 48 hours, start talks within two weeks, and complete a peace accord in three months.
But Karti - while expressing full confidence in the AU's role - said involvement by the Security Council would "give priority to a political position which was announced before and has a hidden agenda".
He did not elaborate or offer further details.
Sudan's rejection of the UN Security Council involvement comes as South Sudan announced on Saturday it was ready to withdraw its police forces from parts of the contested border region of Abyei to comply with international demands.
"The minister of interior will enhance the withdrawal of South Sudan's police force from Abyei... as long as the UN and AU (African Union) will look after its citizens in the area", a spokesman said.
However, the South Sudanese army said on Saturday that it repelled an attack by rebels backed by Sudan outside Malakal, capital of the South's Upper Nile State.
"It was Sudan-supported militias that attacked SPLA [South Sudan army] positions" on Friday, Colonel Philip Aguer told the AFP news agency. He said his forces repulsed the attack, with an unknown number of casualties.
But the rebels claimed to have surrounded Malakal, saying in a statement:
"The magnanimous forces of South Sudan Democratic Army [SSDA] launched Operation Ending Corruption and surrounded Malakal ... and captured its surroundings."
Aguer said South Sudan's forces had detained three rebel fighters and one vehicle.
The Security Council on Thursday started talks on a resolution that could allow sanctions against Sudan and South Sudan if they do not meet the AU demands to end their fighting.
A US-drafted resolution backs the AU demands and calls for the two sides to "immediately" halt hostilities and pull their forces back into their own territory.
The text says the Security Council would review the rivals' implementation of AU demands and could "take appropriate additional measures" under article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN charter that allows for sanctions but not military force.
After its meeting on Tuesday, the AU's security body adopted a roadmap calling for an end to fighting, "including aerial bombardments, with the parties formally conveying their commitment in this respect to the chairperson of the Commission within 48 hours," said the body's security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra.
The roadmap also urged both sides to withdraw troops from the other's territory, stop supporting rebel groups and refrain from making "inflammatory" public statements.
Despite the AU's demand, Sudanese warplanes staged a cross-border raid on Unity State on Wednesday, the South's army alleged.
Khartoum says the South's continued support for rebels inside Sudan undermines the north's stability, despite international appeals for it to stop.
There have also been repeated international demands for an end to Sudan's air strikes on the South.
Both nations have denied backing rebels on each other's territory.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|