South Sudan President Salva Kiir will meet his rival and former vice president Riek Machar in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, as part of talks to negotiate an end to a civil war that broke out in 2013, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said.

“The meeting on South Sudan tomorrow will be held under the auspices of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with the aim of bridging gaps between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar,” the ministry statement said, adding that Machar is expected to arrive in Ethiopia’s capital on Wednesday from South Africa.

South Sudan civil war

The ethnically-charged conflict has killed tens of thousands of people in the world’s youngest country and repeatedly brought large parts of its population to the brink of famine. A series of ceasefires and pacts have failed.

Fighting first erupted between troops loyal to Kiir and Machar, then the vice president, in December 2013, just two years after South Sudan’s independence from Sudan.

Machar has been held under house arrest in South Africa since late 2016.

He will be in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, the Ethiopian ministry said. Foreign ministers from the East African bloc IGAD will then discuss South Sudan on Thursday, followed by a leaders’ gathering in the Ethiopian capital, the ministry added.

IGAD and the mediator of the face-to-face meeting Raila Odinga are hoping that the two rivals can agree a peace deal that will be reported to the African Union Summit in Mauritania on 1-2 July.

The meeting would be the first time that Kiir and Machar, the former vice president of South Sudan, have met since a peace deal between the government and Machar’s rebel group fell apart in August 2016.

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