The White House has declared the government of South Sudan eligible to receive weapons and defense assistance from the U.S.
President Barack Obama issued a memorandum Friday clearing the way. A White House official said the decision could potentially promote peace and regional stability in East Africa.
The announcement came amid an outbreak of violence between two South Sudanese tribes that may have left thousands dead and some 50,000 people needing aid.
While the U.S. now has the ability to send weapons to South Sudan, the White House said no decision on doing so has been made.
South Sudan gained its independent in July, becoming the world's newest nation.