South Sudan’s leader discusses closer ties in energy, trade with Russian President Putin

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Visiting South Sudan President Salva Kiir agreed in a meeting with Russia’s president to expand their relationship in energy, trade and other areas, notably oil.

Kiir and President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on Thursday and also discussed political and security matters in South Sudan, which is preparing for its first presidential election in December 2024. The country won independence from Sudan in 2011, and Kiir has led the country since then.

According to a video of the leaders’ public statements posted online by the Kremlin, Putin said the development of oil refineries in South Sudan with the participation of Russian companies would strengthen ties.

“This is only the beginning. We have many good opportunities in a variety of fields, including energy,” Putin said.

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Currently, Russia’s Safinat Group is working on an oil refinery in South Sudan’s Unity state.

Russia’s invitation to Kiir to visit came as global powers reach out to African nations for support regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

South Sudan is under pressure from the United States and other allies to more quickly implement a peace deal signed in 2018 to end a five-year civil war and prepare for the election.

For its part, South Sudan wants arms embargos removed. Russia, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, could help.

Kiir said “the world dictates that no one can survive or succeed alone,” and told Putin that the young country needs “strong friends and you are one of them.”

Putin and Kiir also discussed peace and security in Africa and international affairs. The conflict in neighboring Sudan has sent thousands of people into South Sudan, whose humanitarian and other resources were already badly strained.

This is the second time the South Sudanese president has visited Russia. Kiir attended the first Russia-Africa summit in 2019.

Putin said Russia would assist South Sudan in handling its domestic political situation and ensuring security.

“We will do our ultimate to support you in this domain,” Putin said.

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