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China weighs in as South Sudan peace talks open

Published on Jan 6, 2014 11:53 PM

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - Peace talks between South Sudan's government and rebels started in Ethiopia on Monday, as key power China added its weight to efforts to end weeks of fighting in the world's youngest nation.

Sudan said meanwhile that it and South Sudan agreed during a visit to Juba by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to consider setting up a joint force to protect vital oilfields.

Ethiopian government spokesman Getachew Reda, whose government has spent days trying to get the two sides into the same room, said that formal negotiations on a possible ceasefire had finally started in an Addis Ababa luxury hotel - even as fighting continued to rage back in South Sudan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking at the start of a four-nation Africa visit, said Beijing was also trying to push for peace and was actively engaged in mediation efforts. China has invested heavily in the country's oil sector and buys most of its crude output.

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