Sudan has contacts with both the government and the opposition in South Sudan as it is a key player in the peace process that seeks to end a civil war in the neighbouring nation, a Sudanese envoy has told IBTimes UK. Khalid al-Mubarak, media counsellor at the Sudanese embassy in London, made the comment days after South Sudan asked Khartoum to shut down offices of the opposition faction Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

A faction of SPLM-IO is loyal to South Sudan's rebel leader and former vice-president Riek Machar, whose forces have been pitted against government troops since a civil war erupted in 2013.

The war broke when President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, fired his deputy Machar – from the Nuer group – and his cabinet.

An estimated 50,000 people have been killed and millions displaced amid fears of severe food shortages due to a man-made famine.

"Sudan is a key member of IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development], which mediated the peace and this is why it would be wise to not support any group wanting to continue with the war. And because of this important of the role, we believe Sudan would not allow any group to use its territory as base for hostile activities," South Sudanese presidential advisor on security affairs, Tut Gatluak, told the Sudan Tribune on 5 December.

However, al-Mubarak said his country has "contacts with both sides", hinting at the possibility Khartoum will not shut down SPLM-IO offices.

"Leaders of both government and opposition in South Sudan own houses in Khartoum and have sons and daughters at school or university. As a leading member of IGAD reconciliation and mediation,the Sudan has got contacts with both sides; but no forces are allowed to use Sudanese territory," al-Mubarak said.

"We welcomed about a quarter of a million displaced South Sudanese and all are treated very well. Dr Machar visited Khartoum for medical treatment and Juba was informed," he continued.

Machar left war-torn South Sudan following deadly fighting in Juba, capital of South Sudan, in July. He is currently in South Africa, where he said he is seeking medical treatment, but exclusively told IBTimes UK he was ready "to go home".

The SPLM-IO faction under the leadership of Machar also confirmed its offices in Sudan has not been shut down and said the faction's relations "with the Sudanese government are excellent".

Kiir has accused the Sudanese government of providing logistics and weapons to Machar's rebels, something Khartoum denies.

In turn, Sudan accuses its neighbour of hosting Darfuri rebels and members of the SPLM-North (SPLM-N) banned political party, currently engaged in an armed conflict against Sudanese troops in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Salva Kiir, Riek Machar
From left: President of South Sudan Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar Reuters