President Kenyatta, Ethiopia PM in South Sudan for talks
26 December 2013, 11:54
Juba - President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn flew into Juba on Thursday for talks with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, an AFP journalist said.
The leaders posed for photos before going into closed door talks. The meeting was confirmed by both the Ethiopian foreign ministry and Kenyatta's office.
The visit comes amid ongoing efforts by regional powers to bring a halt to nearly two weeks of unrest in the world's youngest nation.
Envoys from both Kenya and Ethiopia were already involved in mediation efforts last week, when their respective foreign ministers were part of a regional delegation that went to Juba.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohammed accompanied President Kenyatta to Juba, her office said.
Kenya has been sending in flights to evacuate its nationals from South Sudan, where many have set up businesses.
Several thousand people are now believed to have been killed in a week-and-a-half of fighting in South Sudan that has pitted troops loyal to Kiir against those backing his rival Riek Machar, a former vice president who was sacked in July.
The unrest has taken on an ethnic dimension, pitting Kiir's Dinka tribe against Machar's Nuer.
The UN Security Council voted Tuesday to send nearly 6,000 extra soldiers and police to South Sudan, nearly doubling the UNMISS force to 12,500 troops and 1,323 civilian police.
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after a bloody decades-long struggle for independence from Sudan.