South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar said on Monday they hoped for a breakthrough in peace talks as they met in Khartoum, but there was no immediate indication that either side would make real concessions.
“I came to this meeting with an open mind and hope my brother Riek did the same … I see the need to stop this unnecessary war and hope Dr Riek does as well,” Kiir said as talks began.
South Sudan offered to allow a rebel representative to join its government on Friday, but ruled outMachar himself.
Kiir said disagreements persisted over “division of power and security arrangements” – an apparent reference to possible rebel representation in the South Sudanese government and the “integration” of rebel and government forces.
Machar told reporters: “We came to Khartoum to look for peace”, although he said his own invitation had come “late”, without elaborating.
The meeting was also attended by Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, who has previously met both Kiir and Machar to seek a way of resolving the political standoff.
It was a good gesture that both His Excellency Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar shook hands, setting into motion the fruitful meeting we had today. pic.twitter.com/C0u8CqPXVY— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) 25 juin 2018
The war that broke out in 2013, less than two years after oil-rich South Sudan gained independence from Sudan, has killed tens of thousands and forced millions from their homes.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is convening the talks in Khartoum. Sudan has struggled economically since the oil-rich south seceded, and is now in its worst fiscal crisis for years.
“We will put all our experience in the negotiations and peace-making to put an end to the war and bring the peace to our brothers in South Sudan,” Bashir said.
I pledge full support and solidarity to ensure that South Sudan is back on the track of economic and social development. I thank His Excellency Omar el-Bashir for his concern over the political instability in South Sudan and for calling this meeting. pic.twitter.com/c5VKgb0gLy— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) 25 juin 2018