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S. Sudan direct talks delayed in absence of agenda

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2014-01-04 21:29:16

ADDIS ABABA - The direct talks set for Saturday between the warring sides of South Sudan have been delayed in absence of an agenda, according to the East African bloc IGAD.

The rival sides met Friday, but failed to agree on an agenda for direct talks to put in place an immediate ceasefire, sources of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) disclosed on Saturday.

The bloc involved in the organization of the talks includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

IGAD Ambassador Mahboub M. Maalim said the commencement of the talks was a significant step in pursuit of a peaceful resolution of the crisis in line with the call made by regional leaders on December 27 in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

"He commended the commitment by both parties to a speedy and peaceful resolution of the crisis demonstrated in the proxy talks, " said a statement issued in Nairobi.

Maalim said there have been positive engagements by the negotiating teams of both parties with Chair of IGAD Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Tedros Adhanom and IGAD special envoy Seyoum Mesfin.

"Maalim also lauded the work of Mesfin and the resolve by Adhanom demonstrated by his day-long presence in the proxy talks," the statement said.

The representatives for South Sudan's government and the rebels met separately in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Friday with mediators trying to broker a ceasefire amid intense fighting in the world's newest state.

The flare erupted on December 15 when President Salva Kiir said soldiers loyal to his former vice-president Riek Machar, dismissed from office in July, launched an attempted coup.

Kiir belongs to the Dinka ethnic group and Machar to the Lou Nuer. The conflict has been increasingly marked by reports of ethnically targeted violence.

Thousands of people are estimated to have died in the violence. Among those driven from their homes, many are seeking refuge at camps of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which has been authorized by the UN Security Council to almost double its armed strength to nearly 14,000 in an effort to protect civilians.

The UN estimates that more than 1,000 people have been killed and around 200,000 others displaced from their homes due to the ongoing clashes in South Sudan.

Maalim expressed confidence that IGAD and special envoys hold determination to push ahead with the negotiations on the full realization of peace and stability in South Sudan.

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