South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar held talks in Ethiopia’s capital on Wednesday, the first time the two men have met since 2016, when a peace deal they had signed collapsed into fighting between their armed forces.
The meeting between the two leaders was held behind closed doors. The gathering is being billed by Ethiopia’s government as a concrete chance at ending a five-year-old civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and forced more than three million to flee their homes in the world’s youngest country.
Ethiopia’s 41-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is convening the meeting between Kiir and Machar. The Ethiopian government has been a key actor in the regional bloc IGAD’s faltering peace process.
Addis Ababa is under pressure to get the peace process back on track. The ceasefire that the warring sides agreed to in the Ethiopian capital in December was violated hours after it was signed and subsequent rounds of talks have failed to produce a breakthrough or halt violence in the country.