Sudan president visits South amid efforts to end war

Sudan president visits South amid efforts to end war
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks during a press conference.

JUBA, Sudan - Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir arrived in South Sudan's capital Juba on Monday for a day of talks on the country's three-week-old unrest, as mediators struggled to get peace negotiations underway in neighbouring Ethiopia.

Bashir was greeted at Juba airport by South Sudan's Vice President James Wani Igga, before heading to the presidential palace for talks with his counterpart President Salva Kiir.

Bashir made no public comment, although Khartoum has reaffirmed Sudan's support for a "a peaceful resolution to the conflict", which has already left thousands dead and close to 200,000 displaced.

South Sudan won independence from Khartoum in 2011 after decades of war, but the north remains a key player in the young nation's affairs - serving as the export route for the South's oil production.

The visit comes as fighting in South Sudan showed no sign of easing, with the capital experiencing more sporadic gunfire overnight and government forces saying they were massing to recapture several rebel-held towns.

Heavy fighting was reported over the weekend in oil-producing Unity and Upper Nile states in the north, as well as near rebel-held Bor, capital of Jonglei State just north of the capital.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer said it was only a "matter of time" before Bor was recaptured, although rebel spokesman Moses Ruai insisted that it was anti-government fighters who were advancing on the capital.

"Our forces are well organised. They are not just hit and run. The next target is now Juba but I cannot tell you exactly when they will attack Juba, but they are heading there," he said.

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