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Vatican to host ‘spiritual retreat’ for South Sudan factions

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar are expected to travel to Rome.

The Vatican (Nick Potts/PA)
The Vatican (Nick Potts/PA)

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 on Wednesday.

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

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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, left, and opposition leader Riek Machar shake hands during peace talks last year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Mulugeta Ayene/AP)

He did not identify them.

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 Mr Machar and Mr Kiir would focus on confidence-building and helping to bring the two together.

A peace deal calls for a functional government by May.

PA

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