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South Sudan President Meets With Obama

President Barack Obama meets with the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir in New York, Sept., 21, 2011.
President Barack Obama meets with the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir in New York, Sept., 21, 2011.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to remain committed to helping the people of South Sudan, but called on President Salva Kiir to work on resolving issues remaining with neighboring Sudan.

Obama met with the leader of the newly-independent South Sudan Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.

The two leaders posed for photographs but did not address the public during their meeting in New York. However, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said President Obama called on President Kiir to work towards completing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including questions regarding the region's oil wealth.

The official said Obama also stressed how important it was for the violence in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan to end, and called on President Kiir to take action on reports that the South Sudanese military is providing support to fighters there.

The two leaders also discussed the importance of maintaining transparency and the rule of law and setting the fledgling nation on a path to economic progress.

President Kiir this week has renewed his pledge to fight corruption, announcing "five critical steps" he will undertake. These include investigating diverted funds and passing new laws regulating government contracts.

South Sudan declared independence on July 9, after a referendum agreed to in the 2005 peace agreement that ended a two-decade-long north-south civil war.

But several key issues remain unresolved, including the fate of the oil-rich Abyei region, which was a key battleground during the war and is now claimed by both sides.

South Sudan also faces the difficult task of developing and rebuilding a country with almost no roads, low literacy rates, widespread poverty, and other challenges.