US calls for immediate political talks in South Sudan

South sudanThe crisis in South Sudan has left hundreds of people dead and thousands displaced. (AP)

The US has asked conflict-torn South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar to end hostilities and begin mediated political talks.

Led by Secretary of State John Kerry, US officials have been making calls to leaders throughout Africa and the world seeking a solution to the crisis in the world's youngest country, where ethnic and political violence has left hundreds of people dead and thousands displaced.

"This morning, Kerry urged both South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar to accept a cessation of hostilities and begin mediated political talks," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

"US Special Envoy Donald Booth is in Juba today to attempt to secure final commitment from both President Kiir and Former Vice President Machar to begin talks, and is working with leaders from the Inter-Governmental Authority for Government (IGAD) nations to arrange for the negotiations to begin in the coming days," she said.

"The US urges all parties in the crisis in South Sudan to implement an immediate cessation of hostilities. This will offer critical humanitarian access to populations in dire need and open a space for a mediated political dialogue between the opposing sides," Psaki said.

The ability of the parties to implement the ceasefire will send a strong signal to the citizens of South Sudan and the world that as leaders they have the courage to accept compromise and work for the best interests of all of the people of this young nation, she said.

"We hope and pray that the leaders of South Sudan will acknowledge the international community's commitment and understand that those who seek to take or hold power by violence or division along ethnic lines will not have our support and may be in violation of international law," she said, adding that violence today will not pave the way for a more stable or prosperous tomorrow.

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