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New Sudan Letter Claims Wiretap Shows Juba Aimed to Burn All Heglig Oil

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 23, updated -- Sudan on Monday told US Ambassador Susan Rice, as president of the Security Council, that it "has evidence in the form of a recorded telephone conversation on April 20... where [South Sudan] General Taaban Deng is giving clear orders to the commander to burn all the oil facilities in Heglig."

  Inner City Press obtained a copy of the letter, even before concerned Permanent Representatives on the Council had received it, and is seeking a copy of the recorded phone call.

  If true it would bolster the claim, including by a member of the Thabo Mbeki High Level Panel, that moves are afoot to try to move Omar al Bashir from power by cutting off income from his government in Khartoum, the theory being that Bashir could only last six months without oil money, while South Sudan could last eight months or a year.

Update of 3:10 pm -- Ambassador Rice told Inner City Press, as the afternoon's Security Council session started, that the Council will be briefed and hold consultations on the Sudans tomorrow.

  Sudan's letter also states that the South Sudanese forces did not leave Heglig voluntarily, but rather were ousted by the Sudanese army. A Sudanese diplomat on Monday morning told Inner City Press that "people in Sudan are angry," as an explanation for Bashir's statements in Heglig. Things are escalating.

  A Security Council member late Monday morning told Inner City Press exclusively that his delegation's information, with photographs, is that it might take six to eight months to get Heglig oil production "up and running" again.

  In Washington on Friday, April 20 Inner City Press asked State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland

Inner City Press: about Heglig, the South Sudanese army has said that it’s pulling out of this disputed town that it went into. Sudan is claiming that they threw them out, and I guess President Kiir has said that he’s pulling back voluntarily based on calls from a variety of parties, including the U.S. What’s the U.S. understanding? Are they leaving? And are they leaving voluntarily, or have they been ejected?

MS. NULAND: Well, we welcome the announcement from South Sudan that they will withdraw their forces from Heglig. We urge them to completely and fully withdraw all Sudanese forces from Heglig. In parallel, we’re also calling on the Government of Sudan, as we have regularly, to halt their own cross-border attacks, particularly the provocative aerial bombardments that – so that we can get back to a place where these two sides are working together and using mechanisms like the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism to work through their issues.

As you know, our special envoy, Princeton Lyman, has been there all week. I think he briefed some of you yesterday by telephone. He had a very productive series of meetings in Juba and in Khartoum. And yesterday he made clear that it’s not just the United States; it’s the entire international community that’s working together to get this violence ended.

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