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South Sudan Government, Rebels to Hold Talks to End Violence

Delegates for South Sudan's warring sides are gathering in Ethiopia for peace talks, in a bid to end weeks of violence that has left more than 1,000 people dead.

Reporter Marthe van der Wolf, who is in Addis Ababa for the peace talks, tells VOA that talks will not begin until Thursday at the earliest.

Fighting continues in South Sudan as representatives of President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar prepare to meet. Officials said Wednesday there were renewed clashes between government troops and forces loyal to Machar in Bor, a town about 120 kilometers from the capital, Juba.

On Tuesday, rebels recaptured Bor, a key city they had briefly held before until being ousted by government forces last week.

The bloodshed in the world's newest country began in mid-December when Mr. Kiir accused his former vice president Machar of attempting a coup.

President Kiir and Machar have both committed to the peace talks in Addis Ababa, which are being brokered by IGAD , an East African regional bloc.



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 South Sudan's violence has forced tens of thousands of civilians from their homes.

Witnesses say some of the violence is ethnically-motivated, with supporters of Mr. Kiir, a member of the Dinka tribe, and supporters of Machar, from the Nuer tribe, targeting each other for their background.

The government arrested several alleged coup plotters soon after the violence began. 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.

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