The government of South Sudan and representatives of rebel forces
met on Saturday evening in Ethiopia for the formal inauguration of
peace talks, part of the diplomatic effort to halt weeks of fighting
in the young nation.
More substantive, face-to-face bargaining is expected on Sunday.
"The negotiations have to be serious. They cannot be a delay gimmick
in order to continue the fighting and try to find advantage on the
ground at the expense of the people of South Sudan," Kerry told
reporters during a visit to Israel.
"We will work to apply international pressure to any elements that
attempt to use force to seize power. That is not acceptable," he
The fighting began on December 15 between soldiers in a barracks in
Juba. President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president, Riek
Machar, of leading an attempted coup. Machar denied the charge, but
his followers took up arms after the government detained a group of
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In a statement on Saturday, the U.S. State Department called for
"rapid, tangible progress on a cessation of hostilities" and urged
the South Sudanese government to uphold its commitments and release
political detainees immediately.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, writing by Jeffrey Heller;
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