Under mounting pressure from regional and world powers, South Sudan's two warring sides agreed to send negotiators to Ethiopia for peace talks on Wednesday to end more than two weeks of tribal clashes that have pushed the country towards civil war.
Though the situation on the ground remains tense, the mere fact that both sides have agreed to talk is soothing and sheds hope.
Clashes between South Sudan's Dinka tribe, to which South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit belongs, and the Nuer tribe, to which rebel leader Machar belongs, erupted on Dec. 15 after Kiir accused Machar, who was sacked by Kiir as his deputy in July, of plotting a coup against him.
The henceforth bloodletting has killed at least 1,000 people and displaced more than 121,600 others, causing a severe humanitarian crisis and threatening the very fragile regional stability.
The South Sudanese people had not tasted peace for long. The youngest country in the world achieved independence from Sudan, its northern neighbor, only two years ago after decades of civil war.
Rich in oil reserves, the independent South Sudan took full advantage of natural resources and was ready to uplift people's livelihood by improving infrastructure, education and social welfare.
It also aimed to attract investment to build new oil infrastructure and pipelines.
However, no development plans can be fulfilled without a stable and peaceful environment. Leaders on both warring sides should give overriding attention to national interests and the people's welfare.
As a nation composed of many tribes, South Sudan is expected to have numerous internal differences. This only underscores the importance of communication and dialogue, while fighting only causes rifts and disasters.
African leaders, during a summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the Kenyan capital Nairobi Friday, urged the rival sides of South Sudan to end violence, warning the bloodshed, if continues, will cause millions of internally displaced persons and refugees and a setback to regional development.
The UN Security Council has expressed its deep concern, urging both forces in South Sudan to bring the country "back from the brink."
China supports IGAD's mediation of the South Sudanese conflict, urging South Sudan's two conflicting parties to respond to international mediations and solve their dispute through talks.
It is sincerely hoped that the Addis Ababa talks under the auspices of IGAD will yield a lasting ceasefire and pave the way for a peaceful settlement of the South Sudanese conflict.