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Pope Francis says "hopes" to visit to South Sudan next year

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November 10, 2019 (VATICAN) – The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis said he "hopes" to visit war-torn South Sudan next year.

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Pope Francis shakes hands with President Salva Kiir at the Vatican on March 16, 2019 (The Vatican photo)

Speaking to the faithful in St Peter’s Square in Rome on Sunday, the Pope said he wished to renew his invitation “to all those involved in the national political process to seek what unites and to overcome what divides, in a spirit of true brotherhood.”

The Pope, Vatican News reported, said South Sudanese have suffered too much in recent years and look forward with great hope to a better future, the definitive end of conflicts and lasting peace.

“I therefore urge those responsible to continue, tirelessly, with their commitment to an inclusive dialogue in the search for consensus for the good of the nation,” he was quoted saying.

The Roman Catholic head also appealed to South Sudan leaders to overcome their divisions and find consensus for good of the country.

He particularly recalled the spiritual retreat for organized for South Sudanese leaders last April where he knelt and kissed their feet.

The Pope said he hopes the international community will not neglect to accompany South Sudan on the path to national reconciliation.

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July 2011, but has since December 2013 been engulfed in a civil war that has killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced more than 4 million.

In September last year, the arch rivals signed a revitalized peace agreement to end the country’s civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

According to the 2018 peace deal, a unity government was supposed to be formed in May, but due to unresolved issues, the parties have agreed to extend the pre-transitional period till next year.

(ST)

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