Kerry backs arms embargo on S. Sudan

An internally displaced persons camp is seen in Juba on January 7, 2014 (AFP Photo/Nichole Sobecki)

Washington (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing for a United Nations vote creating an arms embargo on South Sudan in an effort to end the civil war there, a US official said Thursday.

An embargo and sanctions against South Sudan fighters are regularly discussed at the United Nations, and in Washington and Europe.

But there has been little real action, with the White House seen as dragging its feet after making a strong push for the independence of the world's youngest nation in 2011.

"I would characterize Kerry's view as supporting the State Department's view in support of a UN-led embargo," a US administration official told AFP on Thursday.

Foreign Policy magazine reported last week that National Security Advisor Susan Rice was against an arms embargo on South Sudan, putting her at odds with Kerry and UN envoy Samantha Power.

Rice does not see a benefit to an embargo that would only hit the elected regime of President Salva Kiir and not the rebellion of his former vice president Riek Machar, according to Foreign Policy.

The US official refused to discuss any possible disagreement between the White House and the State Department on the issue.

In the months that followed the start of the conflict in December 2013, US President Barack Obama repeatedly condemned, pressured and threatened sanctions. He also sent Kerry on a peace mission to Juba.

But in recent weeks, rights groups and other experts have accused Washington of standing idly by over a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

Kiir and Machar signed yet another ceasefire agreement late Sunday following four days of talks in Ethiopia, but they did not address the core issues behind the 13 months of fighting.

The United States has fought for the cause of South Sudan for the past three decades, from backing John Garang's 1983-2005 rebellion to the July 2011 independence ceremony attended by Rice in Juba.