South Sudan rebels take most of strategic city of Bor

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Associated Press

Posted on December 31, 2013 at 11:00 AM

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Anti-government rebels in South Sudan have taken control of nearly all of a strategic city.

This, even as officials announced that representatives from the government and the rebels had agreed to hold talks for the first time. The talks are supposed to take place in neighboring Ethiopia. It's the first breakthrough since ethnically-based violence began more than two weeks ago.

The U.S. envoy to the region met today with the country's president -- their fourth meeting in eight days. He also spoke on the phone with the former vice president who is accused by the government of having tried to carry out a coup.

Envoy Donald Booth told reporters that the commitment by the two sides to meet is a "first step but a very important step" toward an end to hostilities, and talks aimed at resolving the underlying political issues.

Earlier in the day, heavy fighting erupted in the city of Bor, and rebels ended up controlling most of it. That could give them an upper hand at the negotiating table.

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APPHOTO ABC104: Displaced people fill containers from a water truck, at a United Nations compound which has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, in the Jebel area on the outskirts of Juba, South Sudan Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Anti-government rebels took control of nearly all of the strategic city of Bor on Tuesday even as officials announced that representatives from the government and the rebels had agreed to hold talks for the first time. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (31 Dec 2013)

<<APPHOTO ABC104 (12/31/13)££

APPHOTO ABC105: A young girl cooks food over a charcoal fire outside her makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound which has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, in the Jebel area on the outskirts of Juba, South Sudan Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Anti-government rebels took control of nearly all of the strategic city of Bor on Tuesday even as officials announced that representatives from the government and the rebels had agreed to hold talks for the first time. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (31 Dec 2013)

<<APPHOTO ABC105 (12/31/13)££

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