Voice of America (Washington, DC)

South Sudan Warring Factions Move Toward Peace Talks

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IGAD Will Push for Ceasefire at Peace Talks

Ugandan Foreign Ministry spokesman Fred Opolot said IGAD mediators will push for a cessation of hostilities in South Sudan to be "one of the ground rules" for the peace talks in Addis Ababa, but said he was not sure how long it would take to get through the preliminary round of talks that began Friday.

"Before any substantive talks begin, we have to lay the ground rules," Opolot said.

"I'm pretty sure that a ceasefire will be one of the ground rules... But the ground rules may take a few days" to agree to, he said.

IGAD, which was a key player in brokering the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan's long civil war, which resulted in the birth of South Sudan in 2011, will be the "key facilitator" at the talks in Addis Ababa, Opolot said.

U.S. Evacuates More Embassy Staff

As the two sides moved toward face-to-face peace negotiations, the United States evacuated most of the remaining personnel from its embassy in Juba and urged any U.S. citizens still in South Sudan to leave the country immediately, due to the "deteriorating security situation."

The Pentagon said that 20 Americans were evacuated from Juba to Entebbe in Uganda Friday and that two C-130 aircraft are "standing by for any further requests from the State Department" for help in South Sudan.

The United States and several European countries evacuated scores of their citizens from South Sudan in the days immediately following the outbreak of violence.

U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page is still in Juba and will maintain "constant communication" with South Sudanese officials, UNMISS and her foreign counterparts, the State Department said in a statement.

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi will provide consular services for U.S. citizens who choose to stay in South Sudan while the embassy in Juba is closed. The statement did not say how long that would be.

U.S. Announces More Aid for South Sudan

Even as the United States drew down its embassy staffing in Juba, Washington announced a new injection of nearly $50 million in aid to help address the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, where U.N. officials have said the numbers of displaced persons could leap to 400,000 if a peace deal is not reached in Ethiopia.

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