Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and southern leader Salva Kiir have agreed a plan to heal the row which had threatened their peace deal.
Some had feared the two leaders were preparing a return to war
The two men set up a committee with a seven-day deadline to submit proposals on the most contentious issue, the control of oil-rich Abyei state.
And a timetable is to be drawn up for the withdrawal of northern troops from three other southern states.
These issues led southern ministers to leave a national unity government.
If all goes well, the southerners would rejoin the national government.
The row had threatened a comprehensive peace agreement in Kenya in 2005, ending 21 years of civil war.
Under that deal, Mr Kiir is national vice-president, as well as being president of the separate South Sudan government.
The troop withdrawals issue is to be dealt with by a Joint Defence Committee, which is to draw up a timetable for the departure of government forces from parts of Upper Nile, Lower Nile and Kordofan states.
A separate six member committee will try to resolve the contentious issue of the oil-rich region of Abyei, and has been asked to report by 11 December.
A senior Sudanese source told the BBC the next seven days will be critical.
If these divisive issues can be resolved, the way would be cleared for the southern Sudanese ministers to return to Khartoum, and resume their participation in government.