US President Barack Obama called Friday for South Sudan's leaders to "end the cycle of violence" and work towards reconciliation in the world's youngest nation after a year of civil war.
"Last December, when a political conflict erupted into violence in South Sudan, the hope and optimism the world felt with the founding of the new nation in 2011 was overtaken by images of bloodshed and grief," Obama said in a statement.
"Today, I appeal to the leaders of South Sudan to pursue peace as a way to honor those who have died," he added.
"It is in your hands to end the cycle of violence, to set forth on a course of reform and reconciliation, and to hold to account those responsible for atrocities."
"To the people of South Sudan, who have suffered for far too long, I urge you to renew the spirit of hope, unity, and fortitude that enabled you almost four years ago to come together and vote for a brighter future," said the president, emphasizing that the United States would "remain a friend to those who seek peace and progress."
The war in the world's newest nation erupted in December last year, when President Salva Kiir ousted his vice president Riek Machar, accusing him of trying to organize a coup.
Fighting broke out in the military between troops loyal to Kiir and supporters of Machar, and then expanded into an ethnic conflict, essentially pitting Kiir's Dinka tribe against Machar's Nuer.
Thousands have died and nearly two million people have fled their homes in the fighting, including 100,000 civilians who have fled to UN bases for shelter.