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Kerry: US 'Closely' Examining South Sudan Sanctions

Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. is considering sanctions on people encouraging unrest in South Sudan, where political and sectarian violence has displaced more than a million people.

In an interview with VOA at the State Department Monday, Kerry said the Obama administration is "very, very closely" looking at possible sanctions, though he declined to specify who the U.S. might target.

He said he believes the fighting in South Sudan, which began as a dispute over oil, power and ethnic rivalries, has now become personal. Fighting broke out in mid-December when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup.

Kerry said the crisis in South Sudan is a tragedy, especially given how long South Sudan struggled to become an independent nation.

"This was a moment of great hope, and to see it tugged downwards by personal ambitions and personal animosities is really in many ways a betrayal of the trust of the people in their leaders."

The secretary said the U.S. is still hoping to end the ongoing clash between government and rebel forces through diplomacy.

On Wednesday, Kerry begins a trip to East Africa that will take him to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, where peace talks between South Sudan's government and rebel representatives have failed to make progress.

He is also scheduled to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola during the seven-day trip.

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