In a directive to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama said he was permitting the United States to furnish defense articles and defense services to South Sudan because doing so “will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace.”
South Sudan formally declared its independence from Sudan in July under a 2005 peace agreement, and the United States has worked to free the young country from economic and political sanctions originally imposed on the Khartoum government.
State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States and South Sudan were discussing the parameters of future defense relations, but that no decisions had been made.
“From the beginning, and even before we got to statehood, we have been open to conversations that they wanted to have with us about how they would secure their borders, defend themselves in the future,” Nuland told a news briefing.
“Those conversations are ongoing. I am not aware that we’ve come to any conclusions about what they might need and what we might be able to provide.”
The relationship between Sudan and South Sudan remains tense, with the two countries at loggerheads over oil revenues, unresolved border issues and the disputed region of Abyei.
Their Armed Forces clashed in a rare direct confrontation last month, fueling fears that hostilities could broaden and reignite the long civil war that raged for much of the period between 1955 and 2005, killing more than 2 million people.