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South Sudan’s peace talks kick off in Khartoum

Metting between Kiir, al-Bashir, Museveni and Machar in Khartoum 25 June 2018 (ST Photo)
June 25, 2018 (KHARTOUM) Direct talks between South Sudan’s government and the main opposition group led by Riek Machar have begun on Sunday in Khartoum amid large diplomatic and regional presence.

Ahead of the talks on Sunday, President Salva Kiir and Machar held a face-to-face meeting under the auspices of President Omer al-Bashir in the presence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. But the details of the meeting haven’t been disclosed.

In his remarks before the opening session, Museveni said he came to Khartoum to support the efforts to reach a peaceful settlement for South Sudan’s crises, expressing hope that the talks manage to achieve positive results.

He pointed out that the face-to-face meeting between Machar and Kiir has reached some agreements that would allow people of South Sudan to enjoy peace.

For his part, al-Bashir vowed to exert every possible effort to assist South Sudan’s conflicting parties to reach a settlement to end the civil war in the country.

He pointed out that Sudan has felt the impact of South Sudan’s crisis when two million refugees arrived in its territory, saying his country strongly opposed the international community’s warning to impose sanctions on South Sudan after the intensification of the crisis.

“We opposed the sanctions because we believe it doesn’t produce solutions and the solution lies in the dialogue among the warring parties,” he stressed.

Al-Bashir urged South Sudan’s warring factions to rise above personal agendas and put the people’s interest ahead of their own interest.

He praised efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its partners to calm the situation in South Sudan, pledging not to make any move without coordinating with the regional bloc.

For his part, President Kiir said he came to the current round of negotiations to reach solutions to the outstanding issues with an open mind to achieve peace in South Sudan and to stop the "unjustified war".

He expressed his hope that "my brother Dr Rick Machar" also came with an open heart to lead the country to safety and security away from internal differences and enable the people of South Sudan to enjoy peace, stability and prosperity, as he said.

Machar and Kiir held a first face-to-face discussion under the auspices of the IGAD chairperson, Abiy Ahmed on 20 June.

IGAD mandated President al-Bashir to facilitate a second round of discussions between President Kiir and Machar for two weeks to build on the Addis Ababa talks.

President Museveni returned to Kampala after the end of the first day of talks.

The IGAD leaders decided that President Uhuru Kenyatta will facilitate a third round of face-to-face discussions between President Kiir and Machar in Nairobi after the end of Khartoum talks.

Kenyatta will brief the upcoming meeting of the IGAD heads of state and government about the outcome and way forward.

The IGAD leaders directed that the South Sudan special envoy finalize the IGAD bridging proposal on the sideline of the 33rd African Union Summit to be held in Nouakchott, Mauritania on 1 and 2 July.