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South Sudan president, opposition to meet at Vatican ‘retreat’

/ 07:56 PM April 03, 2019
 South Sudan president, opposition to meet at Vatican 'retreat'

FILE – In this Thursday, June 21, 2018 file photo, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, left, and opposition leader Riek Machar shake hands during peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. South Sudan’s committee overseeing the fragile transition from civil war has approved almost $185 million in spending on vehicles, food and home renovations while the country’s peace deal suffers from an alleged lack of funds, according to internal documents seen by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)

VATICAN CITY – South Sudan’s president and opposition leader are expected to travel to the Vatican next week for what the Holy See says is a “spiritual retreat” and opposition officials say is an effort to help implement the country’s peace deal.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti confirmed the visit Wednesday.

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He said a spiritual retreat was scheduled next week at the Vatican for “the leaders of South Sudan.”

He didn’t identify them.

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The meeting comes a month after President Salva Kiir met with Pope Francis to discuss the peace process.

A deputy spokesman for opposition leader Riek Machar, Manawa Peter, said the April 10 Vatican meeting between Machar and Kiir would focus on confidence-building and helping to bring the two together.

A peace deal calls for a functional government by May. / gsg

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