Pope, Canterbury archbishop send Christmas ‘peace’ wishes to South Sudan

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Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Wednesday sent wishes of “peace and prosperity” to South Sudan as negotiations faltered between the African country’s government and rebels.

“We wish to extend to you and to all the people of South Sudan our best wishes for your peace and prosperity... as you strive for a swift implementation of the peace agreements,” the leaders of the Catholic and Anglican churches said in a joint statement.

The spiritual leaders of more than 1.3 billion Christians said they were praying “for a renewed commitment to the path of reconciliation and fraternity” in South Sudan.

Peace talks over South Sudan’s five-year civil war ended in the capital Juba on Tuesday with no breakthrough.

Riek Machar, a former South Sudan rebel leader, met President Salva Kiir, his former ally turned foe, to discuss a way forward for the country’s stalled peace process but the meeting ended without ground being made.

The rivals had signed a peace deal in September 2018, largely pausing the bloodshed that began five years earlier in the world’s youngest country when Kiir and Machar fell out.

But since then, the pair have missed two deadlines to form a power-sharing government, a central tenet of a peace deal that international observers fear is in danger of collapsing.

They have until February to iron out key sticking points - namely how to unify their fighters under one army, and agree on the number and boundaries of states.

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