Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Ambassador Donald Booth on the Current Situation in South Sudan

AMBASSADOR BOOTH: Okay, good morning, afternoon, whatever it is there.  Let me go ahead and start with just a short statement on today’s visit to Juba.

I visited Juba today, where I had a frank and open discussion with President Salva Kiir; the discussion focused on a range of measures to halt the devastating violence in South Sudan. Importantly, President Kiir committed to me that he was ready to begin talks with Riek Machar to end the crisis, without preconditions, as soon as his counterpart was willing.

President Kiir facilitated my access to meet the group of 11 senior SPLM figures who remain detained in Juba, and I can report that they are secure and well taken care of.  These individuals communicated to me their desire – and their readiness – to play a constructive role in ending the crisis through peaceful political dialogue and national reconciliation.  I will be following up to see how the government may utilize this constructive position.

The United States welcomes the recent political engagement of IGAD in South Sudan, and I encourage IGAD to move swiftly in engaging the government and opposition forces with a view to beginning talks on ending hostilities and their underlying political causes.  The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts as necessary.

So that’s the end of the statement I wanted to give, which is the readout of my meetings today in Juba.