South Sudanese rebels to hold direct talks with government

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By Aaron Maasho ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - South Sudanese rebels will hold their first face-to-face talks with the government on Saturday in a bid to end weeks of bloodletting that have raised fears of a slide into civil war in Africa's newest state, Ethiopia's foreign minister said. The talks in South Sudan's neighbor Ethiopia made a slow start on Friday after days of delay, with both sides meeting mediators from the regional IGAD grouping but not each other. But further clashes between President Salva Kiir's SPLA government forces and rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar on Friday suggested the ceasefire demanded by bordering nations was still a long way off. "We will proceed to holding face-to-face discussions tomorrow (Saturday)." South Sudan's neighbors fear the fighting, which rapidly spread from the capital last month along ethnic faultlines, could destabilize East Africa and international pressure is mounting for a deal.