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Thousands have died in South Sudan because of drought and political violence

Kerry says feuding leaders might meet next week

CNN  — 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said South Sudan President Salva Kiir will meet rebel leader Riek Machar next week for talks.

Kerry traveled to Juba on Friday to push for face-to-face meetings between the feuding leaders.

Thousands of people have died in South Sudan because of drought and political violence. About a week ago, rebels slaughtered at least 400 people in the town of Bentiu.

Kerry, speaking at a news briefing in Juba, said he’d spoken with Kirr, who was willing to go to Ethiopia for the talks.

Machar had indicated a willingness to meet through Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Kerry said. He said the talks might take place early next week.

South Sudan celebrated its independence from Sudan three years ago after an internationally brokered referendum. Last year, Kiir accused Machar, his former vice president, of planning a coup. New violence broke out in the war-torn nation.

“I fear that South Sudan’s leaders are locked in a purely personal power struggle, with little or no regard for the appalling suffering that it inflicts on their people,” said Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.