Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Russian envoy held secret talks with South Sudan officials in Israel: report

Russian envoy held secret talks with South Sudan officials in Israel: report
Source: Sudan Tribune -
Date: Wednesday, 22 December 2010
December 21, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – A secret meeting was held last week in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv between the Russian envoy to Sudan, Mikhail Margelov, and officials from South Sudan, according to an Israeli media source.

Photo: Russia’s special envoy to Sudan, Mikhail Margelov, at the International ’Global Zero’ Summit Against Nuclear Weapons at Hotel Intercontinental on February 2, 2010 in Paris, France (Getty Images)

The IzRus website, a key Russian-language online outlet based in Israel, reported on 16 December that Margelov had absconded briefly in Tel Aviv, where he was on a six-day official visit, in order to meet representatives of South Sudanese government who were in Israel at the time.

According to the website, which is cited as one of Israel’s five leading Russian-language websites, Margelov skipped an appointment with Israeli foreign ministry officials in the morning of 16 December and went to meet south Sudanese officials.

The website, which is edited by Michael Falkov who previously served between 2003 and 2004 as a media advisor for Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, claimed that the covert meeting was related to the referendum vote on South Sudan independence.

The semi-autonomous region of South Sudan, where the majority of the population follows Christianity and traditional beliefs, is preparing to gain full independence from the largely Muslim-Arab north in a referendum vote set to take place in January, 9 2011.

The plebiscite is the centerpiece of the 2005’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended nearly half a century of intermittent civil war between north and south Sudan.

Margelov, who also heads the Russian Federation Council’s Committee for International Affairs, was named as his country’s special envoy to Sudan in December 2008, and has ever since visited the country on several occasions.

Earlier this year, Margelov draw the ire of southern Sudanese when he warned of the failure of a new state in south Sudan and expressed fears of a new Somalia emerging in the region.

"We as an international community and countries that are permanent Security Council members do not want a new Somalia in South Sudan," he said.

The Russian envoy also supported the re-election of President Al-Bashir in April disputed elections, and opposed legal actions taken by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Al-Bashir.


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