BEIRUT

Middle East

Sudan's Bashir to visit Juba Monday: state radio

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks during a joint press conference with President of Chad Idriss Deby (unseen) in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on December 24, 2013. (AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY)

KHARTOUM: Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir will visit South Sudan Monday, state radio said, as negotiators in Ethiopia prepared formal ceasefire talks over three weeks of fighting in the world's youngest country.

Radio Omdurman said Sunday that Bashir would meet his southern counterpart, President Salva Kiir, in Juba for talks on the conflict in South Sudan, without giving further details.

"President Bashir will go tomorrow to Juba to meet (President) Salva Kiir and discuss the crisis in the South," it announced in an SMS message to media outlets.

Earlier, the foreign ministry spokesman in Khartoum reaffirmed Sudan's wish to see "a continuation of the political process aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict in South Sudan".

He also underlined Sudan's willingness "to offer everything in its power to ensure success of the initiative by IGAD", the East African regional bloc brokering the talks.

The chief negotiators for South Sudan's government and rebels held another face-to-face meeting in Addis Ababa on Sunday in preparation for the start of formal truce talks, officials said.

The diplomatic effort is aimed at ending three weeks of fierce fighting in South Sudan that has left thousands dead and close to 200,000 people displaced.

The conflict erupted on December 15, pitting army units loyal to Kiir against a loose alliance of ethnic militia forces and mutinous army commanders nominally headed by Riek Machar, a former vice president who was sacked in July.

South Sudan won independence from Khartoum only in 2011.

 

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