* Mutual distrust has prevented withdrawal from border area
* Buffer zone a condition for restarting oil flows
* Oil exports vital for Sudan and South Sudan
By Hereward Holland
JUBA, Feb 4 South Sudan is not withdrawing
troops from the border with Sudan to set up a buffer zone as it
pledged it was last month, South Sudan's army said on Monday, in
a setback to efforts to resume the oil exports vital to both
The two countries came close to war last April in the worst
border clashes since South Sudan seceded in 2011 under a peace
deal that ended one of Africa's longest civil wars.
The African Union managed to broker a deal in September to
defuse hostilities. But the nations have failed set up a buffer
border zone and resume oil exports from the landlocked South
Sudan through Sudanese pipelines as agreed in Addis Ababa.
In a sign of goodwill, South Sudan said three weeks ago it
had started to unilaterally withdraw its troops from the border
and would set up its side of the 10-km buffer zone by Feb 4.
Such a buffer zone is a pre-condition for Sudan to allow oil
exports to restart. Juba shut down its output of 350,000 barrels
day a year ago in a row with Khartoum over pipeline fees.
But South Sudan's military spokesman Philip Aguer told
Reuters on Monday the army had not even started to pull out from
the border, despite the government statement.
"There are no orders to withdraw and I don't think there
will be any unless there is an agreement from both governments,"
Aguer said. "We will never withdraw unless there is an agreement
for a timely withdrawal for both armies."
Neither South Sudanese nor Sudanese government officials
were immediately available for comment.
The African Union twice brought together Sudan's President
Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart Salva
Kiir in Ethiopia last month to end the stalemate but there has
been no sign of progress.
Over the weekend Juba accused Khartoum of killing a South
Sudanese soldier in two air attacks on their border. Sudan
denied the allegation, though Reuters reporters have witnessed
Sudanese air attacks on southern territory in the past.
(Reporting by Hereward Holland; Editing by Ulf Laessing and