New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) A team of Indian officials Saturday left for South Sudan, a day after the US embassy in capital Juba announced that most of the mission’s personnel are being evacuated, authorities said.
The Indian team is led by Sandeep Kumar, joint secretary (West Asia and North Africa) in the external affairs ministry.
Indian officials said they have no intention to close down the Indian mission and will assess if it needs to be further strengthened in light of Indian interests in South Sudan, said official sources.
Meanwhile, all eyes are set on Addis Ababa where peace talks between representatives of the rival factions of President Salva Kiir and ousted vice president Riek Machar are to be held.
Violence between the two factions has left over 1,000 people dead and thousands have fled to neighbouring countries.
The South Sudanese government delegation, led by former foreign minister Nhial Deng Nhial, and representatives of Riek Machar are believed to have reached Addis Ababa, said the sources.
The representatives of the two sides will meet mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-nation trading bloc based in eastern Africa.
After the visit to South Sudan, the Indian diplomats will travel to Addis Ababa to meet IGAD mediators.
There were about 1,000 Indian nationals residing in South Sudan when violence broke out Dec 15. Most left by air and road to neighbouring countries or beyond, but around 250 Indian nationals are still there.
The Indian team will also discuss matters with United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in which some 2,000 Indian peacekeepers are serving.