As the process to implement a peace accord in South Sudan continues, Pope Francis met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on 16th March and expressed the hope that, finally, he would be able to visit the country.
During the meeting in the papal library, the Vatican said, the pope and president discussed “matters regarding the implementation of the agreement recently reached by various political actors with a view to a definitive solution to the conflicts, the return of refugees and displaced persons, and the integral development of the country.”
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in mid-2011 after years of fighting. But in December 2013, tensions between political factions erupted and civil war broke out. Tens of thousands of people have died in the past year and millions have been displaced.
In the context of the discussions about implementing the September peace agreements, the Vatican said, Pope Francis “expressed the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan, as a sign of closeness to the population and of encouragement for the peace process.”
Picture: Pope Francis shakes hands with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir during a private audience at the Vatican on 16th March 2019. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).