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U.S. hearings to gauge response to S. Sudan

Jan. 15, 2014 at 10:16 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said hearings Wednesday would assess how best to reassert U.S. influence to bring peace to South Sudan.

"South Sudan has taken a disastrous turn," committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a statement Tuesday ahead of the hearings.

Royce last week summoned African specialists from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, to testify.

South Sudan descended into chaos last month when President Salva Kiir accused former Vice President Riek Machar of trying to overthrow the government. Machar, sidelined when Kiir reshuffled his Cabinet in July, denies trying to stage a coup.

Washington helped broker the 2005 peace accord in Sudan that led to South Sudan's independence in 2011. Royce said he was frustrated to see the same forces that stood up against the "brutal regime in Khartoum" now turn their guns on one another.

Parties to the South Sudanese conflict are meeting in Ethiopia to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

The U.N. Mission in South Sudan has estimated the number of people killed since conflict erupted Dec. 15 may be as high as 10,000.

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