State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland issued a statement today on North-South negotations related to Sudan. Spokesperson Nuland said: "The United States is encouraged by the July 4 meeting between Sudanese President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir at the Extraordinary Session of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development on Sudan in Addis Ababa. We welcome the commitment that Sudan's leaders made to continue negotiations on outstanding issues following South Sudan's independence on July 9. We urge the parties to set a firm deadline -- no later than the end of July -- for the resolution of these issues. Leaving key issues unresolved risks undermining the prospects for a positive and cooperative future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan. "We also welcome the leadership of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in convening the parties only five days before South Sudan's independence, and appreciate the on-going work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel in facilitating ongoing discussions between Sudanese leaders. "Recently the parties have made encouraging progress on interim arrangements for Abyei and security arrangements for the border zone between the North and South. Discussions on other areas, such as debt relief and currency, have also advanced. While these agreements reflect significant achievements, we remain concerned that several critical outstanding issues remain unresolved, including questions relating to the oil sector and the final status of Abyei. "The United States also calls on the parties to end the fighting in Southern Kordofan, and to facilitate unfettered access for aid workers to deliver humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians affected by the conflict. We are concerned that President Bashir has raised objections to the political and security framework agreement previously negotiated by the National Congress Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North. We urge the Government of Sudan to work with the African Union High Level Implementation Panel urgently to overcome any objections so the vitally important discussions called for in that agreement can proceed." You can also read the Spokesperson's statement here.