The Latest: Obama says South Sudan needs urgent attention

AP News
Posted: Jul 27, 2015 7:33 AM
The Latest: Obama says South Sudan needs urgent attention

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — The latest on President Barack Obama's visit to Ethiopia (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama is warning the world can't wait long to address the deteriorating situation in South Sudan.

Obama is addressing South Sudan's civil war during a news conference in neighboring Ethiopia.

Obama says the humanitarian situation is deteriorating and the conditions are getting "much, much worse." He says the parties to the conflict have until now proven to be "very stubborn."

The president says the situation demands the world's urgent attention. He says the group of African countries working to resolve the conflict hasn't been able to do so as of yet. He says the U.S. wants to assist that effort and that there needs to be a peace agreement and a structure in place in the next several weeks.

Obama plans to convene a meeting of regional leaders on Monday in Ethiopia to discuss the situation.

South Sudan marked four years of independence this month but has been plagued by violence since December 2013. That's when clashes broke out between government troops controlled by President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his former deputy, Riek Machar.


2:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama says more press freedoms and tolerance of opposition voices would strengthen the Ethiopian government's agenda.

Obama is defending his decision to visit Ethiopia despite deep concerns about the country's human rights record.

Obama says the U.S. wants to engage with other governments on mutual interests even if their democratic practices don't align with those in the U.S. But he says the U.S. continually brings up human rights in talks with those countries. He says he doesn't bite his tongue much in discussions with foreign leaders.

The president is comparing his willingness to engage with Ethiopia with the U.S. relationship with China. He says nobody questions the need for the U.S. to engage with large countries like China, but that a different standard is applied to smaller countries like Ethiopia.

Human rights groups had warned that Obama's visit would lend an air of international legitimacy to a government that they say uses national security concerns as a pretext to stifle opposition and curtail basic freedoms. The Committee to Protect Journalists says Ethiopia is the world's second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea.


1:50 p.m.

President Barack Obama says a bombing in Somalia's capital is a reminder that terrorist groups like al-Shabab offer nothing but destruction and must be stopped.

Obama is speaking at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He says the U.S. and other countries must keep the pressure on groups like al-Shabab.

Obama says al-Shabab is also a serious threat to Ethiopia.

The East African country has been a partner with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism, sharing intelligence with American officials and sending troops into Somalia to address instability there.

Somali police says 15 people died in the massive truck bomb attack Sunday on a hotel in Mogadishu.