JUBA May 6 U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
flew into South Sudan on Tuesday to urge government troops and
rebels to end more than four months of fighting - the second
peace mission there by a major global figure in less than a
Ban was expected to meet South Sudanese President Salva
Kiir, part of a mounting international push to stop the
increasingly ethnic violence that Washington and regional powers
fear could descend into genocide.
U.S and other diplomatic sources told Reuters on Monday
Washington would back up the diplomacy with sanctions on figures
from both sides of the conflict in coming days.
Showing the message had hit home, a South Sudanese official
said there was no need to sanctions on the government side, as
the president had already responded to international pressure
and agreed to hold talks with the main rebel leader.
"(The government is) doing precisely what has been asked,"
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mawien Makol Arik told
Thousands of civilians have been killed and more than a
million have fled since fighting started in mid December between
troops loyal to Kiir and fighters backing his sacked deputy Riek
Fighting quickly spread, often along ethnic lines, pitting
Kiir's Dinka people against Machar's Nuer.
Government and rebel negotiators in Ethiopia agreed on
Monday to consider a "month of tranquillity", but as they did,
rebel fighters and the army battled for control of a northern
Aid workers in Bentiu reported no fighting on Tuesday. Both
sides claimed control of the town, capital of oil producing
Unity state and scene of an ethnic massacre last month that
fuelled fears of a genocide.
Kiir agreed to hold face-to-face talks with Machar after
meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the South Sudanese
capital Juba on Friday.
The top U.S. diplomat failed to win a similar commitment in
a phone conversation with Machar and later threatened to hit the
rebel leader with sanctions if he did not take part.
(Reporting by Andrew Green; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing
by George Obulutsa and Andrew Heavens)