Clashing sides in South Sudan are set to open talks Wednesday in neighboring Ethiopia, in a bid to end weeks of violence that has left more than 1,000 people dead.
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar are sending delegations to the negotiations in Addis Ababa brokered by the East African regional bloc IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development).
The bloodshed in the world's newest country began in mid-December when Mr. Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused Machar, an ethnic Nuer, of attempting a coup.
On Tuesday, rebels recaptured Bor, a key city they had briefly held before until being ousted by government forces last week.
The United States welcomed the talks and reiterated calls for an immediate end to the fighting. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S. will deny support to those who try to seize power and will "hold leaders responsible for the conduct of their forces."
The United Nations says the violence has forced tens of thousands of civilians from their homes.
Hussein Mar Nyuot, a member of the rebel delegation to the peace talks, is urging the government to free political detainees. The African Union also is urging President Kiir to free the prisoners and is threatening sanctions against those who incite violence.