UNITED NATIONS: UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Monday condemned cross-border air raids by Sudan on rival South Sudan, and called on the countries' leaders to stop their "slide" to war.
The two countries have engaged in sporadic fighting along their common oil-rich border in recent months, prompting international concerns about the possibility of all-out war.
Ban's call for calm came after Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir ruled out any future talks with rival South leader Salva Kiir, who was in Beijing to drum up support from China, a traditional ally of Khartoum.
"The secretary-general condemns the aerial bombardment on South Sudan by Sudanese armed forces and calls on the government of Sudan to cease all hostilities immediately," said deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey.
Ban "reiterates that there can be no military solution to the disputes between Sudan and South Sudan. He calls on President Bashir and President Kiir to stop the slide toward further confrontation and urges both sides to return to dialogue as a matter of urgency," the spokesman added.
South Sudan said Sunday that it had completed a withdrawal of its forces from the disputed oil town of Heglig. But air raids were staged Monday on Bentiu, the capital of the South's Unity state.
Bashir, making a visit to Heglig, said the time for talks with Kiir's government, which he has previously described as an "insect" that must be eliminated, was over.
"No negotiation with those people," Bashir told soldiers in Heglig, which the South occupied for 10 days. "Our talks with them were with guns and bullets."
On Friday, Bashir and Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein -- both wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region -- declared the army had forced Southern soldiers out of Heglig.
Kamal Marouf, a Sudanese army commander, claimed in Heglig on Monday that more than 1,000 South Sudan troops were killed in the clashes. (AFP)