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Machar is "happy" to meet Kiir over South Sudan peace process: statement

June 6, 2018 (JUBA) - The South Sudan main armed opposition group, SPLM-IO announced the readiness of its leader Riek Machar to meet with President Salva Kiir saying he would be "happy" by such meeting to make a breakthrough in the stalled peace process.

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First Vice-President Riek Machar (L) and President Salva Kiir (R) listen to the national anthem following a ceremony during which Machar was sworn in on April 26, 2016. (Phot AFP/Samir Bol)

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Sudanese foreign ministry said President Kiir has accepted a proposition by President Omer al-Bashir to meet with SPLM-UIO leader in Khartoum within the efforts of the IGAD leaders to break the stalemated peace revitalisation forum.

Reacting to this announcement, the head of SPLM-IO National Committee for Information and Public Relations Mabior Garang Wednesday reiterated his group commitment to the peace process and its readiness to "engage positively" with the IGAD to reach a negotiated settlement for the ongoing conflict.

However, Mabior pointed out that the SPLM-IO was not officially informed about Khartoum meeting but was aware of an initiative by the former Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Amolo Odinga to mediate between the warring parties.

Nonetheless, he stressed that Machar "is more than happy to meet with President Salva Kiir in any IGAD country, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda; or any country outside the region, including Mauritania".

The Sudanese initiative comes after a decision by the IGAD Council of Ministers to hold a meeting between Kiir and Machar before the 31st summit of the African Union on 1 and 2 July in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

The statement also referred to false reports claiming that the SPLM-IO would not attend the meeting " due to "mistrust" for IGAD leaders".

"This is simply not true and the SPLM/SPLA (IO) categorically condemns this," it said.