Voice of America (Washington, DC)

South Sudan Parties Meet With Focus On Cease-Fire

Delegates from rebels in South Sudan and the country's government have met for talks aimed at finding a way to halt more than three weeks of deadly fighting.

The two sides negotiating in Addis Ababa on Tuesday have agreed to an agenda focused on achieving a cease-fire and determining the status of 11 detainees being held by the government.

The start of the talks was delayed for days, but representatives for both the government and the rebels have nonetheless expressed optimism about reaching a solution.

The violence has killed more than 1,000 people and forced about 200,000 from their homes.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited South Sudan on Monday. During the trip he pledged that his government will not support rebels in its southern neighbor.

Bashir thanked South Sudanese President Salva Kiir for a "warm welcome" and went on to say Sudan will never support rebels against any neighboring government. He said that "would only cause instability, exhaustion of resources and destruction of ties between countries."

In the past, the two Sudans have accused each other of supporting rebels on the other's territory.

South Sudan's unrest began December 15 when renegade soldiers attacked an army headquarters. President Kiir accused former vice president Riek Machar of a coup attempt. Machar has called for the army to overthrow the president.

Witnesses report some of the violence is ethnically motivated, with supporters of Kiir, a member of the Dinka tribe, and supporters of Machar, from the Nuer tribe, targeting each other.

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