President Obama arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday to talk about regional terrorism and make a final push to get South Sudan to accept an Africa-negotiated agreement to end the violence and atrocities there.
But senior aides to the president say they aren’t optimistic that there will be a breakthrough at the meeting set for Monday or before an Aug. 17 deadline set by the negotiators.
The president plans to meet with African leaders for about 90 minutes in Addis Ababa on Monday to talk mainly about South Sudan. He arrived in the capital late Sunday night after spending the weekend in Nairobi, Kenya.
The meeting comes as African negotiators prepare a final offer to end the violence in South Sudan, where rival factions have led to widespread killings and human-rights violations.
A senior official told reporters Sunday that the U.S. prefers to see both sides accept the negotiated plan but isn’t expecting that to happen.
Present for the meeting will be the presidents of Kenya and Uganda, the prime minister of Ethiopia, the chair of the African Union and the Sudanese foreign minister, according to the official.
“I don’t think anybody should have high expectations that this is going to yield a breakthrough,” the official told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One, according to a press corps pool report. “The parties have shown themselves to be utterly indifferent to their country and their people, and that is a hard thing to rectify.”
The parties have been “unrelenting” in their “recalcitrance,” the official said, all while “the humanitarian situation is getting worse.”
Both parties are part of the problem and have had “many, many opportunities” to work things out with regional leaders, the official told the press pool. The official said the parties will face “sustained and concerted pressure” if there is no resolution.