World Bulletin / News Desk
The second round of peace talks between South Sudan's warring parties kicked off in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn attended the opening session of the talks between representatives of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and sacked vice president Riek Machar.
Also attending with senior officials from the Ethiopian government, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the talks, the United Nations and members of the Troika that consist of delegates of the United States, UK and Norway.
In his keynote address to the opening session, Desalegn said that IGAD has been making frantic efforts to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict in South Sudan.
"The launching of the second phase today will certainly go a long way in getting us where we ought to be in the pursuit of lasting peace," he said.
The talks had been originally scheduled to be held on Monday but had been postponed until Tuesday.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since mid-December, when Kiir accused Machar of standing behind a failed coup attempt against his regime.
Following a month-long first round, the warring rivals signed an agreement in January calling for a cessation of hostilities.
Following the agreement, Kiir ordered the release of seven detainees who immediately left South Sudan for Nairobi.
The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, while the UN estimates that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now "severely food insecure" and more than 820,000 have been displaced.
Freed detainees expected in Addis Ababa
Seven freed detainees affiliated with South Sudan's sacked vice president Riek Machar are expected to arrive in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, Machar's chief negotiator said.
"They were about to be here to attend the opening of the talks," Gen. Taban Deng Gai told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
"They were onboard a plane, but they were not allowed to fly."
The newly released officials had been staying in Kenya since their release last month by the government of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
The chief negotiator said that Machar's delegates had earlier decided not to participate in the second round of peace talks without the participation of the seven "comrades".
"The Kenyan President assured us that the seven men are not under arrest. They are enjoying their freedom of movement," Deng said.Last Mod: 12 Şubat 2014, 10:18