In Ethiopia, peace talks between the South Sudanese government and rebels loyal to former vice president, Riek Machar, aimed at ending violence in the country have finally started.
Officials said on Monday that the peace talks, brokered by the East African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), had officially started, after days of struggling to agree on a ceasefire.
“They have begun,” Ethiopian government spokesman, Getachew Reda, said on Monday.
The announcement comes shortly after both sides said the talks had stalled over a disagreement on the agenda.
Earlier, an Ethiopian official speaking on the condition of anonymity had also said that more procedural groundwork was needed before talks could be held between the two sides.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing was also trying to help the two sides reach an agreement, adding, “China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, so we are paying close attention to the evolving situation in South Sudan. We have been making mediation efforts.”
Talks are currently being held between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir, in the South Sudanese capital, Juba. Bashir has called for an immediate end to the ongoing violence in South Sudan.
Clashes continue between government forces and rebels over the oil-producing Unity and Upper Nile states as well as Jonglei state.
The recent fighting between troops loyal to Kiir and Machar erupted around Juba on December 15, 2013, after the former accused the latter of attempting to stage a military coup.