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US hails ceasefire deal between South Sudan president and rebel chief

Published on May 10, 2014 11:18 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States hailed a ceasefire deal by South Sudan's president and rebel chief, urging both sides to "swiftly" implement its promises to end nearly five months of civil war.

President Salva Kiir and rebel boss Riek Machar inked a deal "ending the war", said head mediator Seyoum Mesfin of the East African regional bloc IGAD. The two rivals, who first shook hands and then prayed together, agreed to end all fighting within 24 hours of signing the document.

The United States, a key backer of South Sudan's push for independence from Khartoum, has poured in billions of dollars in aid to the country since it split from Sudan in 2011. It lobbied intensely for the deal.

"Today's agreement to immediately stop the fighting in South Sudan and to negotiate a transitional government could mark a breakthrough for the future of South Sudan," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

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