African Union chief Jean Ping will visit Sudan in a bid to ease tensions between Khartoum and arch-rival Chad after a failed rebel attack on the Sudanese capital, an African Union official said Tuesday.
Ping, alongside African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra, will travel to Khartoum on Friday, days after the army defeated an unprecedented attack on Khartoum by Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement, the official told AFP.
Chad closed its border with Sudan on Monday, ramping up tensions between the volatile neighbors after Khartoum accused Ndjamena of backing the rebel assault on the Sudanese capital.
"We are leaving for Khartoum to evaluate the situation on the ground where we are going to meet all stakeholders, including the president (Omar al-Beshir)," Ping told a press conference here.
"We are also planning to visit Chad, but we have to organize a meeting," he added.
"We are looking into the issue of nominating a negotiator who, according to our assessment, will be part of a way to push dialogue between the stakeholders."
Ping said: "The cutting of diplomatic relations was a step that had been taken before, (but) we have to bring both parties together and normalize relations."
Relations have been tense between the two countries since 2003 when war broke out in Darfur, sending hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing across the Chadian border.
The two countries broke off relations for four months in 2006 after Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno accused Sudan of arming rebels who launched an earlier coup attempt that year.
His government on Monday froze the activities of a Sudanese bank operating in Chad, banned all financial transactions between the two countries, and said it was designating Libya to represent its interests in Sudan.
It also banned Sudanese music from being played.
Sudan severed diplomatic ties with Chad on Sunday, accusing Ndjamena of backing the rebel assault on Khartoum. Chad denied the charge.