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South Sudanese president Salva Kiir on Sunday returned to the capital Juba from Rome where he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Kiir met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday and briefed him on the implementation of the revitalised peace deal, which is already six months behind schedule.

The South Sudanese leader also met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States.

Speaking to reporters upon arrival at the Juba International Airport, Minister in the Office of the President, Mayiik Ayii Deng said President Kiir returned from the Vatican after a two-day official visit.

“Pope Francis said that he wanted to pray for the peace process and the people of South Sudan who have suffered for a long period of time,” he said.

Mayiik further said Kiir assured Pope Francis that the revitalised peace agreement will be implemented in letter and spirit.

“The president assured the Holy Father that this peace is irreversible… The only problem facing him is the funding gap for the implementation of the peace agreement that’s why they are seeing some delays,” he explained.

According to Mayiik, President Kiir has urged Pope Francis to encourage international donors to contribute to the funding of peace implementation in South Sudan.

“The president explained to the Holy Father his tour of Bahr el Ghazal and is going to tour the rest of the country soon to educate people about the peace, explain peace and talk about the culture of peace,” he said.

“If the president did not believe in those things, he would have not gone to the highest moral authority in the world to tell him that the peace is implementable,” he added.

He revealed that a Vatican delegation will arrive in Juba on Thursday. “They are coming for five days. I believe they are coming to see the situation by themselves,” he said.

Ayii said Kiir met with the Vatican Secretary of State and talked about the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons and their need for support.

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