South Sudan

President Kiir agrees to direct talks with Machar – Kerry

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2 May 2014 - President Salva Kiir has expressed willingness to travel to Ethiopia for talks and to consider forming a transitional government as part of efforts to end the crisis in South Sudan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Juba today.

Mr. Kerry, who described their discussion as “in-depth, very frank and thorough”, said he had made it clear to the South Sudanese leader that he needed to do everything in his power to end the violence.

“He committed his intention … to begin to engage on a discussion with respect to a transitional government,” said Mr. Kerry.

He added that President Kiir was willing to travel to Addis Ababa as early as next week to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn “and hopefully with Riek Machar who had previously indicated to the prime minister a willingness to do so”.

The Secretary of State said he also hoped to talk to Dr. Machar and encourage him to do so.

“This meeting of Riek Machar and President Kiir is critical to the ability to be able to engage in a serious way as to how the cessation of hostilities agreement will … be implemented and how that can be augmented by discussions regarding a transitional government and meeting the needs of the people of South Sudan,” said Mr. Kerry.

Condemning the violence which has left thousands dead, millions displaced and the country at the risk of famine, Mr. Kerry said both the government and opposition must work immediate for a cessation of hostilities and move towards an understanding about future governance.

“I told President Kiir that the choices that he and the opposition face are stark and clear,” he said. “The unspeakable human costs that we have seen over the course of the last months, and which could even grow if they fail to sit down are unacceptable to the global community.”

Secretary Kerry called on both sides to do more to facilitate the work of humanitarian actors and to remember their responsibilities to their people.

“The people of South Sudan have suffered and sacrificed far too much to travel down this dangerous road that the country is on today,” he said. “The United States is also prepared, on short order, to put sanctions in place against those who target innocent people, who wage a campaign of ethnic violence or who disrupt the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

He also noted that it was urgent to secure an additional UN Security Council mandate in order to be able to deploy more peacekeeping troops in the country.