No sanctions, but plans for peace talks as Kerry visits South Sudan

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that South Sudan's President Salva Kiir pledged to open talks with the former vice president who's leading an insurgency against him, though monitors of the conflict say it's too early to call the development a breakthrough.

Kerry visited South Sudan's capital, Juba, on Friday as part of travels this week throughout Africa. The visit comes as U.S., U.N. and international humanitarian officials warn that the violence in South Sudan is pushing the young nation ever closer to famine and charges of genocide.

Some international aid groups had hoped that Kerry would take the opportunity to announce sanctions against the rival factions of president Kiir and former vice president-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar; both are accused of using rape, child soldiers and massacres as tools of war.

President Barack Obama last month authorized punitive sanctions against anyone in South Sudan that U.S. officials determine to be threatening to peace efforts, but no sanctions have been announced and the White House seeks to avoid such punitive measures against a government it was instrumental in establishing when South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

Instead of announcing sanctions Friday, Kerry said after meeting with Kiir that the leader had vowed to take "forceful steps" toward implementing a cease-fire agreement that was dead on arrival, and toward opening talks about a transitional government. Kerry didn't meet with Machar, but planned to call him later Friday.

Kerry said South Sudan could face "major famine" and that "if both sides do not take steps in order to reduce or end the violence, they literally put their entire country in danger." Kerry's full remarks are here.

The White House has faced criticism that it's been too slow in acknowledging atrocities from not only the rebel side but from forces loyal to the U.S.-backed Kiir government. Only recently has the administration become more explicit in calling it out as contributing to the bloodshed.

In Juba, Kerry said that while the U.S. administration doesn't apply "any kind of equivalency" between an elected, sitting president and a rebel force, "both sides are now reportedly recruiting child soldiers and there are appalling accounts of sexual violence in the conflict."

The decision to wait on sanctions was frustrating to some humanitarian aid groups that have watched the violence soar in recent months. There's also growing impatience on the Hill; a bipartisan group of nine senators sent a letter to Obama this week urging him to impose sanctions.

In any case, according to close monitors of the conflict, targeted sanctions would be largely symbolic because so few of the potential targets have U.S. assets or travel regularly to the United States. Still, proponents of sanctions say, Kiir would get the message that the United States would no longer tolerate or ignore the actions of his government and its loyalists.

 


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/05/01/226222/kerry-warns-of-famine-and-genocide.html?sp=/99/117/#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/05/01/226222/kerry-warns-of-famine-and-genocide.html?sp=/99/117/#storylink=cpProviding new details about efforts to beef up a United Nations peacekeeping force, Mr. Kerry said that he expected 2,500 African troops to be deployed in the coming weeks and that a new United Nations Security Council resolution would first need to be ado“We do need to secure an additional United Nations Security Council mandate,” he said. “I hope it can be done quickly.”

Read more World Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
In this Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo, Irom Sharmila is detained by policewomen in Imphal, in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. The frail Indian activist who has been on a hunger strike for nearly 14 years to protest alleged military brutality scuffled with police Friday as they took her back to the same government hospital where she had been force-fed. Sharmila, 42, vowed to continue the hunger strike that landed her in prison for the past 14 years. She walked free on Wednesday after a court threw out the charges of attempted suicide against her. Attempted suicide is a crime in India. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT

    India police re-arrest fasting activist

    Police re-arrested a frail Indian activist who has been on a hunger strike for nearly 14 years to protest alleged military brutality in India's remote northeast, her attorney said Saturday.

  •  
Pro-Russian rebels talk  in a field near the village of Khryaschevatoye, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay.

    Russian aid trucks begin to leave Ukraine

    Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine began returning to Russia on Saturday.

  • China shuts down Beijing Independent Film Festival

    Chinese authorities shut down an independent film festival on its opening day Saturday, a rare venue for the showing of films that may be critical of the government in a country with tight controls, organizers said.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category