US sends top diplomat to push for Kiir-Machar summit

Career Ambassador in the United States Foreign Service and the current Counselor to the Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

Career Ambassador in the United States Foreign Service and the current Counselor to the Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

June 7, 2014(RT) — A top diplomat of the United States government, Thomas A. Shannon, arrived in Juba on Friday to push President Salva Kiir ahead of a scheduled meeting with opposition leader Riek Machar in Addis Ababa, which is scheduled to take place on Monday.

The President of South Sudan and opposition leader Riek Machar had agreed on 9 May to meet within one month, though firm plans for the scheduled meeting have not yet been announced.

According to the peace pact signed by the two men on 9 May, the two men would meet within one month with the purpose of reviewing implementation of the cessation of hostilities and other terms of the agreement.

Ambassador Shannon, the Counselor of the US State Department, said he was dispatched to Juba by US Secretary of State John Kerry, ahead of further peace talks in Addis Ababa.

He briefed the press at the US Embassy on Saturday in Juba.

The American diplomat noted that he met with President Kiir and other government officials, both civilian and military. He said both Kiir and Machar have shown their commitment to attend the scheduled meeting.

“I am going to be in Addis Ababa on the 9th and 10th June, where Ambassador Booth will also be,” he said, referring to US Special Envoy Donald Booth. “We hope that there will be a meeting between President Salva and Dr Machar in Addis Ababa,” Shannon said.

“We know there will be an IGAD summit meeting where President Kiir will be participating. And we believe both of those events will be very important events in finding a path forward to a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict here in South Sudan,” he said.

Asked by a journalist whether he was ‘certain’ the meeting would take place, Shannon replied, “Well they both said they’re committed. They both said they’re going. And they both indicated that they want to meet. But we’ll know for certain when the meet.”

Sources report that President Salva Kiir is expected to travel to Addis Ababa in late hours today.

Meanwhile, the top diplomat has encouraged the efforts by the AU Committee of Inquiry to investigate cases of human rights violations. The committee is supposed to recommend mechanisms that will address the issue of accountability in South Sudan.

“We’re very supportive of the African Union Commission of Inquiry. We’re very supportive of the work of its head, and we believe that this creates a mechanism whereby we can begin to address issues of accountability,” he said.

File photo: Salva Kiir and Riek Machar at the signing ceremony of an agreement to end conflict in South Sudan, 9 May 2014

Related coverage:

Deadline approaches for agreed Kiir-Machar meeting (6 June)

‘Breakthrough’ toward elusive South Sudan peace (9 May)

Radio Tamazuj.