STATE DEPARTMENT —
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Africa for talks on violence in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
A senior State Department official traveling with Secretary Kerry says the top U.S. diplomat will be delivering "tough messages to both sides" in South Sudan "that they will be held accountable if they don't take the necessary actions to end the hostilities."
The United States has in place a mechanism for a travel ban and assets freeze on individuals responsible for violence that followed allegations of a December coup attempt. Secretary Kerry says President Barack Obama is now looking "very closely" at imposing those sanctions.
"We're going to continue to push. But it may be that sanctions are one of the things that have to take impact. We're evaluating that now," said Kerry.
In Addis Ababa, Kerry will meet with his counterparts from Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya in hopes of getting them to join economic sanctions and a travel ban. A senior administration official says South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, now rival Riek Machar, both appear to believe they can win militarily and neither "have their country's best good in their hearts."
Secretary Kerry will be briefed on the violence by former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, who heads an African Union commission of inquiry.
At the AU, Kerry will meet with officials on peacekeeping efforts in the Central African Republic, where he says it is "regrettable" that China joined Russia in blocking United Nations sanctions.
"Without the U.N. sanctions it becomes much more difficult to be able to take the steps that we think are necessary," said Kerry.
On this trip, Kerry will also meet with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to discuss the fight against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia.
He will travel to Kinshasa to meet with President Joseph Kabila about security in eastern Congo, where a senior State Department official says there is "some success after many, many years of conflict." Those talks will include amnesty for some M-23 rebels as well as Congolese judicial accountability for some of their leaders.
Secretary Kerry also will visit Angola for talks with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who a senior State Department official says has played an "extraordinarily positive role" in helping resolve crises in both the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
Kerry will meet with civil society and business leaders in Ethiopia and Angola. There is a micro-finance event in Congo as well as a meeting with U.N. Special Representative Martin Kobler.