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South Sudan rebel leader says ready for talks with president

Published on Dec 24, 2013 1:27 AM

JUBA (REUTERS) - The leader of a rebellion against South Sudan's government told Reuters on Monday he was ready for dialogue to end the conflict but said President Salva Kiir must first release his detained political allies.

Former Vice President Riek Machar said he had spoken on Monday to Ethiopia's foreign minister, leader of a team of African mediators trying to end more than a week of fighting that has killed hundreds of people and driven thousands from their homes.

"My message was let Salva Kiir release my comrades who are under detention and let them be evacuated to Addis Ababa and we can start dialogue straightaway, because these are the people who would (handle) dialogue," he said by telephone.

Machar, who was sacked from his post of vice president in July, also said he had spoken to US National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Saturday and UN envoy Hilde Johnson before that.

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