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South Sudan’s Kiir to meet Machar in Khartoum: minister

President Salva Kiir greets First Vice President Riek Machar before to start a meeting at the South Sudanese presidency in Juba on 3 June 2016 (Photo Moses Lomayat)

June 5, 2018 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir agreed to meet with his former First Vice-President Riek Machar in Khartoum, announced the Sudanese Foreign Minister upon his return from Juba on Tuesday.

President Kiir met with a Sudanese delegation headed by foreign Minister al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed including Oil Minister Azhary Abdel Gader and the head of National Intelligence and Security Services Salah Gosh, said the foreign ministry in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny described the meeting as fruitful, saying South Sudanese leader has commended the role the Sudanese government is playing in the peace process.

“The Sudanese foreign minister and the minister of oil came for bilateral talks and to deliver a message of his brother his Excellency the President of the Republic Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit. The message the Sudanese government have delivered to his Excellency the President is the message of assurance to continue to support peace so that stability returns to the country,” said Ateny.

The delegation conveyed to Kiir a message from President Omer al-Bashir proposing him to meet with Machar in Khartoum in support of the IGAD High-Level Revitalization Forum of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.

"President Salva Kiir thanked President Omar al-Bashir for the initiative, which he said reflected the spirit of brotherhood and loyalty between the two countries and the two brotherly peoples," said the Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson.

Kiir welcomed the initiative and affirmed his government’s readiness to participate in the meeting and to contribute to its success to achieve security and stability in South Sudan, he said.

Also, President Kiir praised Sudan’s stand in support of South Sudan stability, pointing out that the stability of South Sudan represents the stability of Sudan, according to the statement.

For his part, Ateny Wek Ateny told reporters in Juba that the coalition government has accepted the president to meet rebel leader without condition.

“Initially, the stance of the government was not to meet the rebel leader, Riek Machar before denouncing violence but because the government is committed to ending war and bring peace to the country, the council of ministers has welcomed the proposal of the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and allowed his Excellency the President of the Republic to meet Riek Machar,” said Ateny.

However, the South Sudanese official pointed that Kiir did not receive an official letter from the chairman of the regional bloc mediating the talks, but he would like to meet Machar in Ethiopia instead of Mauritania as it appeared in a communique.

Last week, the IGAD, which is mediating a process for the implementation of a peace agreement signed in 2015, decided to organise a meeting between President Kiir and his main rival Machar.

The IGAD set June 30 as the deadline for the meeting between the two rival leaders.

The revitalization forum is stalled on issues related to the governance and security arrangement. But the mediators say they have hope that the two leaders make the needed concessions in the remaining outstanding matters.

The foreign ministry spokesperson said the Sudanese oil minister discussed with his South Sudanese counterpart the joint cooperation for the resumption of oil production in the troubled country

Also, Gosh and his South Sudanese counterpart discussed security issues and joint cooperation to achieve security and stability in the border areas.