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Ban: South Sudan Rebel Chief Agrees to Attend Peace Talks

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the leader of South Sudanese rebels has agreed to attend peace talks in Addis Ababa.

Speaking in South Sudan's capital, Juba, on Tuesday, Mr. Ban stopped short of saying Riek Machar will meet with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, who told reporters that he is ready to meet with Machar in the Ethiopian capital.

Mr. Ban said Machar cautioned he might not make it to Addis by Friday, the projected date for the meeting, because of his remote location.

Machar has been in hiding for months as rebel and government forces clash across South Sudan. More than 1.2 million people have been displaced by the fighting and ethnic violence.

Earlier this week, during his own visit to Juba, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned of sanctions and other possible consequences if South Sudan's government and rebel forces do not commit to the peace talks in Addis.

The two sides signed a cease-fire agreement in January, but fighting has continued.



On Monday, the sides signed an agreement to facilitate the delivery of aid to populations in need, and to consider a "month of tranquility" so people can plant crops and care for livestock.

The U.N. has warned of a possible famine in South Sudan unless people can safely return to their fields. President Kiir said Tuesday that there would be a "serious disaster... if we do not allow our people to cultivate now."

The U.N. refugee agency reports that 11,000 South Sudanese have crossed the border into Ethiopia since Saturday, fleeing clashes between government and rebel troops in the Upper Nile region.

The agency says overall, 315,000 South Sudanese have fled to neighboring countries since violence erupted in December, while more than 920,000 others are displaced internally. Tens of thousands are sheltering at U.N. bases across the country.

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