Sisi backs South Sudan peace process in Khartoum
KHARTOUM - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday backed an ongoing regional bid to resolve the conflict in South Sudan as he praised Khartoum for hosting peace talks between the country's warring groups.
Sisi, who arrived in Khartoum for a two-day visit, said the peace talks in the Sudanese capital were aimed at achieving peace and stability in neighbouring South Sudan, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced since a brutal civil war erupted in December 2013.
"To South Sudan, I want to say that we will work together with our brothers in the region for achieving peace so that South Sudanese people enjoy stability and prosperity," said Sisi in remarks broadcast on state TV after holding talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
"These efforts ... have a clear vision when it comes to security, stability and development of regional countries," added Sisi, on his first visit to Khartoum since being re-elected to a second presidential term earlier this year.
The war in South Sudan began at the end of 2013 after South Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, now rebel leader, Riek Machar of plotting a coup.
Khartoum, as part of regional efforts to end the conflict in South Sudan, has already hosted peace talks between the arch-foes.
Hours before Sisi's remarks, Khartoum announced a delay to a "preliminary" power-sharing deal between Kiir and Machar -- due to be signed Thursday -- as the warring factions had disagreements over the draft.
Although the sides had agreed to a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of their forces from urban areas, Sudan's Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed said the parties wanted to include changes to the final power-sharing deal.
"A new date for the preliminary signing of the deal will be announced later," Ahmed said, noting that the South Sudan government wished to have "observations" included in the text.
Rebel leader Machar's group said it was also seeking changes.
"We will not sign unless they are included in the document," Machar's representative in the negotiations, Agouk Makour, told reporters.
Sudan's government insisted a final power-sharing pact would still be signed on July 26 in the presence of Bashir.
A similar deal was signed in 2015 but fell apart a year later in a deadly battle that saw Machar flee into exile.