Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, South Sudan’s Petroleum Minister told reporters at Juba International Airport before his departure late Thursday for Ethiopia that that a high level delegation dispatched by South Sudan President Salva Kiir to Ethiopia will discuss issues to do with trade, infrastructure development and regional security.
“Ethiopia is a strategic neighbor and we want to make sure that while we are implementing the agreement, we also make sure that trade between South Sudan and Ethiopia is booming,” Gatkuoth said.
Gatkuoth said the team led by the country’s first vice President Taban Deng Gai , will meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and other government officials for negotiations on border demarcation and regional security.
“We would like to make sure that the region is peaceful and all our neighbors are having good relations with us. So we will be normalizing relations with all the neighbors,” Gatkuoth said.
South Sudan share a long border with its eastern neighbor Ethiopia, but trade between the countries have been affected by South Sudan’s civil war which started in December 2013 which concentrated in the Northeastern region bordering Sudan and Ethiopia.
A deadly raid which left over 200 killed in Ethiopia’s Gambella region in April by armed South Sudanese further caused tense relations between the two countries.