(Updates with more details)
9/7 Tass 116
MOSCOW, July 9 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia has recognised the Republic of South Sudan that has officially proclaimed independence.
The Kremlin’s envoy for cooperation with African countries Mikhail Margelov met with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in Juba, the capital of the newly independent state, to deliver a message from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
“The results of the referendum on self-determination held in the South of Sudan show that the majority of people living in that region spoke in favour of national independence and sovereignty. I am confident that the course chosen by the leadership of South Sudan towards the establishment and development of good-neighbourly relations with the citizens of the Republic of Sudan and other African states will serve the interests of maintaining and strengthening peace in Central and East Africa,” the message said.
“Relations between our peoples have a long history that dates back to the time when the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement was created… The acquisition by South Sudan of state sovereignty paves the way to the development of bilateral dialogue based on the principles of respect, friendship and mutually advantageous cooperation, and to the filling it with successful projects,” Medvedev said.
Russian business is showing serious interest in joint work with South Sudanese partners, including in the production and processing of mineral resources, in the energy sector and agriculture, the message said.
“Educational institutions of the Russian Federation, drawing on the experience of interaction with African countries in the field of education, are ready to help train personnel for South Sudan’s economy and social sector,” Medvedev said.
He expressed hope that “our partnership will be one of the important factors for strengthening stability and security in Africa”.
Margelov said the president’s message “recognises South Sudan’s independence.”
“It was conveyed to Kiir,” he told Itar-Tass on Saturday, July 9, by telephone from Juba, where the independence of the new state was proclaimed earlier in the day.
Asked about when diplomatic relations between Russia and South Sudan can be established, Margelov said this would be done “according to the standard Foreign Ministry procedure”.
He declined to name an approximate timeline for this process.
Margelov said that Moscow would develop “both political and economic” relations with South Sudan, and several Russian companies have already shown their interest in the new state in such sectors as energy, infrastructure, military-technical cooperation.
Margelov has arrived in South Sudan to represent Russia at the official celebration marking independence. It began with the reading by parliament speaker James Wani Igga of the Declaration of Independence in the presence of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the leaders of some 30 African countries. A national flag was hoisted after the official ceremony.
After that Salva Kiir was sworn in as the first president of the Republic of South Sudan.
All this took place in front of the tomb of the “father of the nation”, John Garang, the founder of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He died under unclear circumstances on July 30, 2005 in a helicopter crash.
Earlier, official Khartoum recognised the independence of South Sudan, practically the entire population of which had supported separation in a nationwide referendum. Sudan’ s President Omar Al-Bashir has also arrived in Juba as a guest of honour.
The declaration of independence has put an end to the interethnic and inter-confessional conflict between the North and the South, which started in the 1950s and has claimed more than 2 million lives.
South Sudan has become the 54th independent state in Africa.