Two warring factions from South Sudan held direct peace talks 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, which are focused on a cease-fire and the release of political prisoners, put representatives of President "Salva Kiir" and former Vice President "Riek Machar" together in Ethiopia.
South Sudan has experienced three weeks of violence. Kiir said 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 U.N has said at least 1,000 people have died. Some 200,000 people have been displaced by the fighting. Rebel forces loyal to Machar now control two state capitals, including the town of Bor, about 120 kilometers north of the capital, Juba.
Sudan’s President "Omar al-Bashir" will visit South Sudan Monday to meet Kiir for talks on the conflict.