May 2, 2014 / 6:16 PM / 3 years ago

South Sudan's Kiir says ready to meet rebel leader for peace talks

NAIROBI, May 2 (Reuters) - South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir said on Friday he was ready to hold face-to-face talks with rebel leader Riek Machar to try to end more than four months of violence, in a statement released by the Kenyan presidency.

Kiir travelled to Kenya to brief regional leaders shortly after meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

“In the interest of peace in our country, I am willing and ready for face-to-face talks with Machar,” Kiir was quoted as saying.

Kerry, on an African trip, earlier phoned Machar to urge him to attend the talks, a U.S. official told Reuters. The rebel leader did not make any commitments to go, but also did not rule it out, the official added.

Thousands have died and more than 1 million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted in December between troops backing Kiir and soldiers loyal to Machar, his sacked deputy. (Reporting by James Macharia and Phil Stewart; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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