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Pope Francis meets South Sudan’s President at the Vatican

By Lawrence Audu

President Salva Kiir has met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome and discussed the current state of affairs in South Sudan.

The official visit comes as a result of an invitation from Pope Francis to President Salva Kiir to visit the Vatican.

In the meeting, the Vatican said his Holiness and the President discussed the implementation of the agreement recently by various political actors, with “a view to a definitive solution to the conflict, the return of the refugees and the displaced persons.”

They also looked at the integral development of South Sudan.

The visit by Kiir comes 2 years after the Vatican postponed an anticipated trip to Juba by Pope Francis over what the National Catholic Reporters, described as due to security concerns.

The Pope had hoped to make a visit to South Sudan to “push for peace” after visiting the Central African Republic in 2015. But the Pope has now expressed interest to come to South Sudan.

Before heading to the Central African Republic that year, the pontiff made stops in Kenya and Uganda, where he had the first meeting with President Salva Kiir in Kampala.

The two spoke privately for 15 minutes in an encounter arranged by the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

This is the second time the President is meeting with the Papal outside South Sudan.

Kiir is accompanied by three ministers; Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster management, Hussein Maar Nyuot; Minister in the office of the President, Mayiik Ayiik; and the Minister of Environment, Josephine Napwon, and several other senior government officials.

“The Vatican want[ed] to know about the peace agreement, and what the role of the Vatican should be in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement,” according to Ateny Wek, the Presidential Press Secretary.

Ateny added that while in Rome, Kiir is expected to “explain and to express the political will that he and his government have placed on returning the country to normalcy.

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