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Sudan, South Sudan take steps to peaceful relations

Agreement to end hostilities is verbal only.

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A man holds the South Sudan flag at a festival to celebrate one year of independence on July 7, 2012, in Juba, South Sudan. After breaking away from Sudan last year, South Sudan is getting ready for its first independence anniversary celebrations. (Paula Bronstein/AFP/Getty Images)

Violence along the Sudan-South Sudan border will stop after leaders of both countries said they agreed to peace initiatives during talks today in Ethiopia.

The oil-producing border region has been the site of violence and clashes since South Sudan declared independence a year ago, Al Jazeera reported.

The ceasefire is a verbal agreement only.

“We have agreed ... to the unequivocal commitment of the two parties to never solicit force to settle their disputes and differences and to commit themselves to the cessation of hostilities,” Sudan defense minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein said, according to Al Jazeera.

There was no report of a demilitarized zone along the border, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The demarcation of the (border) is not in itself an objective. What we are trying to do to is normalize relations between the two countries,” Hussein said, according to AFP.

South Sudan will celebrate one year of independence on Monday, and African Union-sponsored talks will continue on Wednesday.

More from GlobalPost: Sudan police fire tear gas at hundreds of protesters

Pagan Amum told AFP that South Sudan is committed to peace with its neighbor.

“We are going to discuss all issues, security, economic, that includes trade and oil ... and we have committed ourselves to resolving the border dispute,” South Sudan’s representative said.

The agreement comes a day after Sudan police launched tear gas at protesters, Reuters reported.

Witnesses said police forced protesters back into a mosque after a prayer session.

Sudanese demonstrators are protesting austerity measures taken in the country and calling for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to quit after 23 years in power.

“They had barely begun chanting for a minute. From the moment they left the mosque, the police fired teargas,” a witness told Reuters.

Another protester said police used tear gas in response to chants of: “Freedom. Peace. Justice. Revolution is the choice of the people.”

More from GlobalPost: Sudan, South Sudan: what were they thinking? 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120707/sudan-south-sudan-take-steps-peaceful-relations