US says Kiir ready for talks but 11 still detained

Residents of Juba with their belongings ride out of the city on December 21, 2013 where tension remains high fuelling an exodus of both local and foreign residents from the south Sudanese capital. AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

South Sudan President Salva Kiir is ready to begin talks with his opponents, but 11 dissidents remain in detention, a special US envoy said following talks on Monday with the South Sudan head of state.

Opposition leader Riek Machar has also said he is willing to hold talks, but has set release of the 11 detained opposition figures as a precondition.

US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth told reporters in a conference call from Juba that the detainees had informed him of their “desire and readiness to play a constructive role in ending the crisis.”

The United States welcomes the efforts of Igad member-countries to broker an end to the violence in South Sudan, Ambassador Booth added.

No decision has been made on whether to reduce US assistance to South Sudan in response to the fighting there, a senior Obama administration official said on Monday.


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