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First real peace talks for South Sudan begin

Elias Asmare/Associated Press

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Two warring factions from South Sudan held direct peace talks on Sunday for the first time since conflict began roiling the country last month, sending hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for safety.

The direct talks, focused on a cease-fire and the release of political prisoners, put representatives of President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, former vice president, together in Ethiopia.

South Sudan has experienced three weeks of violence. Kiir says the violence began as a coup attempt Dec. 15, though Machar’s side denies the allegation. Violence began as a political dispute but has since taken on ethnic dimensions, with tribes attacking each other.

The UN has said at least 1,000 people have died. Some 200,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.

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