US military repositions forces in Africa

The US military has repositioned its forces in the Horn of Africa in view of the increasing violence in South Sudan, which might require further evacuation of its people, the Pentagon has said.

PTI| Updated: Dec 24, 2013, 04:56 AM IST

Washington: The US military has repositioned its forces in the Horn of Africa in view of the increasing violence in South Sudan, which might require further evacuation of its people, the Pentagon has said.

"The combatant commander is repositioning his forces in the region to ensure that we`ve got capabilities necessary to respond to any request from the State Department," Pentagon spokesperson Col Steve Warren told reporters.

The move came a day after US forces evacuated a large number of US citizens and those from other countries amid break out of a civil war in South Sudan.

Earlier in the day, Special US Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth met the South Sudanese president Salva Kiir in Juba during which they discussed on a range of measures to halt the devastating violence in South Sudan.

"Importantly, President Kiir committed to me that he was ready to begin talks with Riek Machar to end the crisis, without preconditions, as soon as his counterpart was willing," Booth said.

"The United States welcomes the recent political engagement of IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) in South Sudan, and I encourage IGAD to move swiftly in engaging the government and opposition forces with a view to beginning talks on ending hostilities and their underlying political causes," he said.

"The United States emphasises the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts as necessary," Booth said.

A senior administration official later said that so far 380 American citizens have been evacuated, in addition to another 300 third-country nationals.
"We have continued to urge American citizens to leave South Sudan when it safe for them to get to a place where they can do that," the official said.

The crisis in South Sudan, the official said, has warranted a high level of US engagement and a rapid US engagement to ensure the security of American citizens.

"South Sudan is a country that was born two years ago after a long process that the United States was intimately involved in through the negotiation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord and ensuring its implementation," the official said.