The Foreign Secretary spoke to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr Riek Machar on Sunday 29 December. He supported the outcome of the summit of leaders from the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Friday 27 December, which agreed to establish a mediation process and bring the two sides to the negotiating table by 31 December.
The Foreign Secretary said:
I have spoken today to President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar to urge them both to commit to an immediate ceasefire. This is vital to prevent the deaths of more innocent civilians and to enable international humanitarian aid to reach people in desperate need. There can be no military solution to this conflict. I confirmed the UK’s full support for the negotiations proposed by African leaders, and I encouraged President Kiir and Dr Machar to enter into negotiations immediately and without preconditions. The UK stands ready to provide diplomatic support to those talks.
I attended the independence celebrations of South Sudan in Juba in 2011 and witnessed the hope and optimism felt by its people after years of conflict and sacrifice. Their safety and their future must be put first. A worsening conflict that causes South Sudan to slip back would be a tragedy.