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Mr. Lyman said U.S. officials discuss this matter with their South Sudanese counterparts on an “ongoing basis.”

“[South Sudan] has said that it has long-standing links with the SPLM-N,” he added. “We believe that there will not be a secure border, nor satisfactory resolution of any cross-border aid, until there is a political settlement in [South Kordofan and Blue Nile] and a demilitarized and monitored border.”

Sudanese and South Sudanese officials accuse each other of financing and arming rebels, but they deny doing so themselves.

“The [southerners fighting] in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are part and parcel” of South Sudan's army, Mr. Murawih said.

“They are under the authority of President Salva Kiir,” he added.

South Sudanese Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin dismissed the accusations.

“We are not giving any support,” Mr. Benjamin said in a phone interview from South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

“Our president has discussed that with [Sudanese] President [Omar] Bashir and has said we will assist [him] if he is involved in a peaceful dialogue in trying to get a political solution,” he added.

A Western activist who was in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan earlier this year said there are “solid ties” between South Sudan's army and the rebels fighting in Sudan.

“Everybody recognizes that there is a relationship between the two,” the activist said, speaking on background in order to freely discuss sensitive security issues.

Camps have been set up in the South Sudanese border states of Unity and Upper Nile for refugees fleeing the fighting. The South Sudanese army and rebel fighters have set up checkpoints near these camps. Army personnel are present outside the Jamam refugee camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, while the rebels have set up checkpoints at Al-Fuj border crossing.

A pay dispute

Heated disputes between the rebels and South Sudanese army officers over salaries were reported earlier this year.

“They are not co-mingling their duties, but the payroll dispute shows that the linkages still remain,” said the Western activist. “While the [South Sudanese army] leadership doesn’t want to claim any formal relationship, everybody realizes that there is a very close relationship between the two. They haven’t formally divorced.”

The rebels in Sudan are still unofficially referred to as Division 9 and Division 10 of South Sudan's army in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, respectively.

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