WH ‘deeply concerned’ about South Sudan

The Obama administration late Tuesday expressed deep concern over the “fragile situation” in South Sudan.

“We continue to urge President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar to take immediate steps to end the current conflict, and we welcome their agreement to send representatives to Addis Ababa for talks mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in the coming days,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

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“We continue to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities to stabilize the situation and permit full humanitarian access to civilian populations, which remain in dire need of assistance,“ Hayden added.

The comments came one day ahead of scheduled peace talks in Ethiopia between Sudan’s government and rebels.

"I'm worried that the continued fighting in Bor might scupper the start of these talks," Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said, according to Reuters.

Hayden also said the administration will deny support and “work to apply international pressure to any elements that use force to seize power.”

U.S. officials will hold leaders responsible for the conduct of their forces and “work to ensure accountability for atrocities and war crimes,” she added.

Hayden said the White House is also deeply concerned about continuing reports of human rights abuses.

“Human rights abuses against the civilian population are unacceptable under any circumstances, and every new human rights abuse makes South Sudan’s path toward reconciliation more difficult,” she said. “It is vital that all South Sudanese reject these acts of violence — and that all South Sudanese leaders call upon their forces to protect civilians — and that there be accountability for those who fail to heed these calls.”