June 19, 2018 / 9:53 AM / in a month

South Sudan civil war foes to meet in Ethiopia: Addis ministry

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir will meet his rival Riek Machar in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, as part of talks to try and negotiate an end to a five-year-old civil war, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said.

FILE PHOTO: South Sudan's opposition leader Riek Machar speaks during a briefing ahead of his return to South Sudan as vice president, in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa April 9, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

The ethnically-charged conflict has killed tens of thousands of people in the world’s youngest country and repeatedly brought large parts of its population to the brink of famine. A series of ceasefires and pacts have failed.

FILE PHOTO: South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit smiles upon arrival at Khartoum airport, Sudan November 1,2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

“The meeting on South Sudan tomorrow will be held under the auspices of (Ethiopian) Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with the aim of bridging gaps between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar,” the ministry statement said.

Fighting first erupted between troops loyal to Kiir and Machar, then the vice president, in December 2013 - just two years after South Sudan’s independence from Sudan.

Machar has been held under house arrest in South Africa since late 2016.

He will be in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, the Ethiopian ministry said. Foreign ministers from the East African bloc IGAD will then discuss South Sudan on Thursday, followed by a leaders’ gathering in the Ethiopian capital, the ministry added.

Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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