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Meeting Between South Sudan President, VP Ends Without Resolution

FILE - South Sudan's then First Vice President Riek Machar, left, looks across at President Salva Kiir, right, as they sit to be photographed following the first meeting of a transitional coalition government, in the capital Juba, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Jason Patinkin)

JUBA — The long-awaited meeting between President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar ended in Juba Friday without resolution amid an ongoing disagreement over Kiir's firing of the defense minister last week.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, minister in the office of the president, told reporters in Juba Friday that the two leaders have agreed to meet in future, but did not specify any date.

"During the meeting, the two principles had a frank exchange of views on the relieve of minister of defense and other ministers. As you know, there was a relieve on the minister of foreigner affairs, relieve of minister of interior, and the issue of the exchange and swapping of the ministries of defense and the ministry of interior between the SPLM and SPLM-IO," Marial said.

Marial said the atmosphere at the meeting between Kiir and the leader of the SPLM-IO was "friendly" despite concerns raised by Machar’s group over the firing of the country’s Defense Minister Angelina Teny, who is also Machar’s wife.

"After extensive, friendly deliberation in the spirit of cooperation, the two principles agreed in the spirit of dialogue, frank dialogue and cooperation to convene another meeting at a later date to find amicable solution to this issue they have discussed," Marial said.

Marial insisted the two leaders discussed issues with open minds and sincerity, saying they are serious about finding a solution at a time of looming tensions.

On Wednesday, Kiir fired the country's foreign minister following the dismissals of the defense and interior ministers.

"It's a normal business. People can be relieved and replaced," said Kiir's spokesperson Lily Martin Manyiel.

According to the 2018 peace agreement between the president and vice president, Machar's party is to select the country's defense minister and while Kiir appoints the interior minister.

"The switch... is unilateral and a new cycle of violating the revitalized agreement," said Puok Both Baluang, Machar's spokesperson, in response to Kiir's move last week to swap ministries.

The peace deal between Kiir and Machar ended a five-year civil war that killed an estimated 400,000 people.

Some of the information in the report came from Reuters.