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45 US soldiers sent to South Sudan

Updated: 2013-12-20 11:00
( Xinhua)

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has dispatched 45 US troops to South Sudan to protect US nationals and embassy there amid the African nation's volatile security situation.

In a letter sent to Congress on Thursday, Obama said the troops left for South Sudan on Wednesday, and would remain there until the situation improves.

Meanwhile, more US citizens were evacuated from South Sudan on Thursday, as government troops and rebel forces continued to clash.

A private charter flight lifted some 130 persons from capital Juba, among whom were US citizens and third-country nationals, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf told a regular news briefing.

She said a small number of Americans also flew out of the country aboard a British military aircraft.

A day earlier, Washington airlifted three groups of American nationals, including non-emergency diplomatic personnel, US citizens and third-country nationals, out of South Sudan.

Since fighting broke out on Sunday between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, who was removed from office in July, some 450 people have been killed in clashes so far in Juba.

Machar has rejected Kiir's offer for talks, calling instead for the president's removal by the ruling party and the army.

Kiir accused Machar of orchestrating a military coup against him and declared on Monday a state of emergency in the country with a curfew imposed from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am local time.

Obama on Thursday urged an immediate end to the fighting in South Sudan, while calling for peaceful resolution of the conflict.

South Sudan was founded in 2011 on the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all its people, but the recent violence has put the new African country's future at risk, Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

"South Sudan stands at the precipice. Recent fighting threatens to plunge South Sudan back into the dark days of its past," Obama said.

"South Sudan has a choice. Its leaders can end the violence and work to resolve tensions peacefully and democratically. Fighting to settle political scores or to destabilize the government must stop immediately. Inflammatory rhetoric and targeted violence must cease," he said. "All sides must listen to the wise counsel of their neighbors, commit to dialogue and take immediate steps to urge calm and support reconciliation."

The United States will remain "a steady partner" of the South Sudanese people as they seek the security and prosperity they deserve, Obama added.

See pictures of refugees of South Sudan going into exile

45 US soldiers sent to South Sudan

45 US soldiers sent to South Sudan

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