South Sudan’s Kiir, Machar set for meeting in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa, 7 May 2014 (WIC) - South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar plan talks in Ethiopia this week to end a conflict that has lasted almost five months, an African mediating group said.

The leaders “are set to meet” in Addis Ababa on May 9, the East African intergovernmental group IGAD, which has been mediating in the conflict, said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday.

Fighting erupted in South Sudan on December 15 with Kiir accusing Machar of plotting a coup, a charge Machar denies. The violence has left thousands of people dead and forced more than a million to flee their homes, according to the UN.

Kiir told reporters earlier in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, that he’s ready to meet Machar to discuss a halt to fighting. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking alongside Kiir on a visit to the world’s newest nation, said he would urge Machar to participate.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Washington yesterday that he was hopeful that the prospective meeting “could be the beginning of a dialogue.”

Kerry blamed both sides for failing to uphold an earlier cease-fire. He said the U.S. is imposing sanctions on two military leaders, one from each side, who were involved in violence against civilians. (Bloomberg)