U.N. Security Council diplomats expected in South Sudan this week: official

By Denis Dumo JUBA (Reuters) - U.N. Security Council diplomats are expected to visit South Sudan this week, a foreign affairs ministry spokesman said on Wednesday without giving any details on the purpose of the trip. This month, the Security Council approved a 4,000-strong protection force for South Sudan's capital of Juba as part of the UNMISS peacekeeping mission that had its mandate extended in July. “There is no definite day that I will tell you but they are coming at the end of this week. We will confirm it by Friday," Mawien Makol told Reuters. Fierce fighting in the capital Juba last month has increased fears that the five-year-old nation could relapse into civil war and prompted the United Nations to authorize the deployment of the extra troops for the 12,000-strong U.N. mission there. "We will have together with the government and the minister of foreign affairs to work out programs so that the members of the Security Council can meet the President and government of South Sudan (and) continue discussing how we improve the situation making sure we have peace," UNMISS head, Ellen Margrethe Loej, said on state-run TV after meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Deng Alor on Tuesday. South Sudan's government had initially said it would not cooperate with the newly enlarged protection force, but since then it has said it was still considering its position. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, but by December 2013 the longstanding political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar, had led to fighting that often followed ethnic lines. That most recent conflict has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million people from their homes, with many of them fleeing to neighboring countries. (Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Louise Ireland)