Improve security situation for ONGC’s return, India urges South Sudan

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANS) India on Tuesday urged South Sudan to improve its security situation so that ONGC Videsh can resume its operations in the oilfields in the central African country.

The request came during a bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her South Sudanese counterpart Barnaba Marial Benjamin on the sidelines of the ongoing third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) here.

“There was a discussion on ONGC Videsh’s investments in the oilfields in South Sudan,” said external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup in a media briefing.

He said that Sushma Swaraj mentioned that because of the security situation in that particular province in the country where ONGC Videsh has its operations, the work had stopped.

“She requested if work can resume at an early date because ONGC Videsh is very keen that its workers go back and oil production starts from there,” Swarup said, adding that it was in a place called Thar Jath.

According to him, Benjamin told Sushma Swaraj that that his country’s petroleum minister was already in New Delhi and has held talks with officials in India’s petroleum ministry and also with ONGC Videsh.

In this connection, Swarup said that there was also a discussion on the political situation in South Sudan.

“As you know, there has been violence in South Sudan because of the problems between the two major communities there and the problems (South Sudanese) President Salva Kirr (Mayardit) and his former vice-president Riek Machar,” he said.

The South Sudanese foreign minister, Swarup said, briefed his Indian counterpart on the peace agreement which has been brokered in partnership with the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD).

“He (Benjamin) expressed the hope that the peace agreement this time would be durable.”

Stating that the meeting was held in a most cordial atmosphere, Swarup said that Benjamin also sought India’s assistance in developing his country’s agriculture and hydropower sectors.

On Tuesday, the ministerial meeting of the foreign ministers of India and the African countries was held as part of IAFS 2015.

Following this, Sushma Swaraj held a series of bilateral meetings with some foreign ministers, including the one with her South Sudanese counterpart.

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