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Kiir in South Africa but won’t meet rebel chief Machar: official

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Sunday morning left for South Africa for bilateral talks with his counterpart, Jacob Zuma but would not meet exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in Pretoria, a government official said.

Kiir met with Zuma at his official residence Mahlamba Ndlofu in Pretoria, according to a statement released by South Africa’s presidency.

According to the statement, Kiir briefed Zuma on issues of the political and security situation on the continent. “The two also discussed political and economic relations between the two countries,” partly reads the statement.

South Sudan’s presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Radio Tamazuj today that Kiir’s three-day visit comes at the invitation of President Zuma to discuss issues pertaining to peace in South Sudan.

When asked whether Kiir will meet South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in South Africa or not, Ateny said there was no any agenda to meet Machar in Pretoria. “Machar is not in the agenda of President Kiir’s visit. The visit aims at enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries,” he said.

President Kiir was accompanied by the Minister in the Office of the President, Mayiik Ayii Deng, Minister of Defense, Kuol Manyang, and Minister of Petroleum, Ezekiel Lul.

South Africa was involved in South Sudan peace talks for a number of years.

In 2014, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma appointed his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa as the special envoy to South Sudan to assist with the resolution of the political impasse in that country.

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