2 May 2014

South Sudan: Kerry - S. Sudan's Kiir Accepts Face-to-Face Talks With Machar

Photo: U.S. State Dept
President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan welcomes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Juba.

Juba — South Sudan's president Salva Kiir has expressed willingness to hold face-to-face talks with rebel leader, Riek Machar in order to end the country's ongoing conflict, United States Secretary of State said on Friday.

John Kerry, who briefly visited the new nation's capital, Juba met President Kiir during which the latter reportedly reiterated his government's commitment towards the ongoing peace negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

President Kiir, according to Kerry, said he was fully committed to end the conflict that has engulfed the new nation, displacing over a million people since its outbreak in mid-December last year.

The senior US official had earlier warned of possible genocide in South Sudan unless concerted measures were taken to rapidly arrest the country's ongoing violence.

Kerry arrived in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, late on Wednesday on the first leg of a three-country tour of Africa.Government sources told Sudan Tribune that the US official earlier held meetings in Addis Ababa with the foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda over the crises in South Sudan.

He told foreign ministers from the IGAD countries that there was an urgent need to deploy a regional force in South Sudan to quell the violence which has killed tens of thousands and forced over a million people flee their homes since its outbreak.

Failure to swiftly deploy the Prevention and Deterrent Force (PDF), with special mandate of peace building, Kerry said, could lead to a possible genocide in the world's youngest nation.

"There are very disturbing leading indicators of the kind of ethnic, tribal, targeted nationalistic killings taking place that raise serious questions," observed the US official.

"Were they to continue in the way they've been going could really present a very serious challenge to the international community with respect to the questions of genocide," he added.

The United Nations has already deployed some 9,000 peacekeepers in South Sudan, but regional leaders mediating the country's peace talks opted for more African troops.

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