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South Sudan Peace Talks Start in Ethiopia


Negotiations for peace between South Sudan and rebel leaders began Friday in Ethiopia.

The peace talks are an effort to stop the increasing violence that's pushing South Sudan towards civil war.

So far clashes have killed more than 1,000 people and displaced another 200,000.

"The country is at a crossroads," Hilde Johnson, head of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan, said. "It's a fork in the road but it can still be saved from further, major escalations of violence."

Delegations from each of the warring sides have gathered in Ethiopia to set out demands for an end to violence. They're also looking into the possibility of allowing in humanitarian aid to those affected.

"We want to see these political talks succeed," Valerie Amos, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said. "Any more deterioration of the situation on the ground in terms of the conflict will only lead to greater humanitarian needs in a country that is also already extremely poor."

South Sudan government officials say its time for both sides to swallow their bitterness for the sake of the country.

"What we need is unity, unity and peace so we can have development," Gen. James Hoth Mai said during a press conference. "Now we kill ourselves, there is no incentive, nothing that we are going to gain, at all."

But even as peace talks begin, South Sudan's army is closing in on the town of Bor. They hope to re-capture the town from rebel forces and prevent them from reaching the nations capital.

"We are advancing to Bor because these people want to come to Juba," Gen. Hoth Mai. "We have some fights and our forces are moving towards Bor so anytime we will be in Bor - anytime. Of course, we do not yet have a cease fire, and we do not want them to come and get us somewhere here so we have to go to them."

The government and rebels are under increasing pressure from both African and Western powers to reach a deal.

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