ADDIS ABABA, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Tuesday hailed the latest meeting of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition group leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan.
Machar, leader of Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) who has been under house arrest since 2016, returned to South Sudan on Monday accompanied by Mohamed Hamdan Daqlu, deputy head of Sudan's Transitional Military Council and a contingent of 70 officials.
"IGAD welcomes the meeting of President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the leader of SPLM/A-IO, Riek Machar in Juba, South Sudan, as part of the effort to iron out issues related to transitional security arrangements and the number of States and boundaries," the eight-member East African bloc said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
"The meeting is timely and an important step towards not only resolving challenges related to outstanding critical pre-transitional tasks but also building trust and confidence among the parties to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan," the statement read.
IGAD further commended South Sudan for facilitating and supporting the face-to-face meeting between Kiir and his former deputy-turned rebel leader, Machar.
It also reiterated its continued support to South Sudan's peace process, emphasizing the need to conduct face-to-face meetings among Kiir and Machar as well as other leaders of signatory parties to South Sudan's revitalized peace accord.
"IGAD will continue to encourage and support face-to-face meetings between the two principals as well as among leaders of all Parties to the R-ARCSS agreement to ensure the timely formation and smooth functioning of the Revitalized Government of National Unity," the regional bloc said.
The world's youngest nation descended into conflict in December 2013 after President Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to both leaders.
The conflict killed tens of thousands and displaced millions both internally and externally.
A peace deal signed in 2015 collapsed after renewed violence in July 2016 forcing Machar to flee the capital Juba.
In September 2018, the warring South Sudanese parties also signed a revitalized peace deal, in which Machar will take up one of the four vice presidency positions in the transitional government.