Remarks
William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary of State
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
January 30, 2014


Good afternoon. My colleagues from China, the United Kingdom, Norway, the European Union and I just had a very productive discussion with our partners from the IGAD mediation team, Ambassador Seyoum and General El Dabi.

It was a very good opportunity for all of us to stress our firm support for the important mediation effort of IGAD, and to stress our firm commitment to the full implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement, which was recently concluded.

It was also an opportunity to express our firm support for the work of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), especially in the face of recent threats and challenges. It was an opportunity to stress our firm support for unfettered access for humanitarian agencies to vulnerable populations across South Sudan, and to stress our deep concern about continuing human rights abuses in South Sudan. We also focused on the political process to try to build on the cessation of hostilities agreement; to look at ways in which the recent step to release 7 of the 11 persons detained by the government of South Sudan can be used to create momentum in a political process. At the same time, we continue to urge the release of the remaining 4 detainees.

The truth is that South Sudan, both its people and its leaders, have an important moment of choice before them: whether to choose to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the cessation of hostilities agreement, and to build on it an enduring end to violence, progress toward a sustainable political solution, and to ease the humanitarian suffering which all of us see across South Sudan today, or, to miss that opportunity and to allow mistrust and violence to overcome the chance that the people and leaders of South Sudan have before them today. The people of South Sudan can’t afford to miss this opportunity and none of us in the region or in the international community can afford that either.

There’s still time. There’s still time to realize the hope and the promise of independence in South Sudan, which began just a few short years ago. That’s going to require political vision, will, and courage on the part of leaders in South Sudan and it’s going to require the continued support of the region and the international community for the IGAD mediation effort. And that’s what all of us were proud to reaffirm today.

So, once again, I want to thank my colleagues who were able to meet today and thank our partners in the IGAD mediation effort for a very positive discussion. Thank you all very much.