Washington: The United States has asked South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel-leader Riek Machar to sign a ceasefire deal and immediately end hostilities which has left hundreds of people dead.

“The United States calls upon rebel-leader Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir to sign immediately the cessation of hostilities agreement tabled by IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development),” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement.

Rice said Machar must commit to a cessation of hostilities without precondition.

“His continued insistence on the release of detainees as a pre-condition for a cessation of hostilities is unacceptable and runs counter to the express will of the detainees who informed the IGAD mediators yesterday that they support talks on an unconditional cessation of hostilities and stated clearly that their status as detainees should not be an impediment to reaching an agreement on a cessation of hostilities,” she said.

This crisis must be ended swiftly through a negotiated settlement in order to prevent the escalation of a dangerous conflict that neither the people of South Sudan, the region or the international community can afford, she said.

The US, she said, is disappointed that the detainees being held by the Government of South Sudan have not yet been released.

The US reiterates its call upon President Kiir to release the detainees immediately to the custody of IGAD so that they can participate in the political negotiations.

“It is the obligation of both President Kiir and Machar to ensure that the lives of their people and future of their young country are not further marred by continued violence and atrocities,” Rice said.

The violence in South Sudan has killed more than 1,000 people and driven 180,000 from their homes in the last month.

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