President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the world might have to come up with a "different plan" for South Sudan if the young country's feuding leaders fail to meet an August 17 deadline for a peace deal.
"If they miss that target, then I think it's our view that it's going to be necessary for us to move forward with a different plan and recognize that those leaders are incapable of creating the peace that is required," the president said after White House talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Obama said President Salva Kiir and his vice president-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar had squandered the hope South Sudan had and the progress it had made when the nation became independent in 2011.
Fighting between forces backing the rivals for power has killed thousands and forced more than 2 million to flee their homes. It also has hurt oil production, squelching economic development.
A group of African states trying to broker a peace deal set the August 17 deadline. South Sudanese leaders could face sanctions, including an arms embargo and travel ban, if they miss that target date.