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Friday, Nov. 4, 2011

S. Sudan misson 'will boost ties'


JUBA — The planned dispatch of Ground Self-Defense Force engineers to South Sudan will help forge closer ties with Japan, Riek Machar, the newly formed state's vice president, said in an interview.

News photo
Building ties: South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar is interviewed recently in Juba. KYODO PHOTO

The government's decision to send an engineering team to the African nation as part of U.N. peacekeeping operations "is bringing South Sudan closer to Japan," Machar said Tuesday.

Although limitations will be imposed on the use of arms by GSDF members during the mission, Machar said there are few security concerns in areas around the capital, Juba, where the engineers will be working.

During the past 6½ years there have been no incidents involving U.N. troops based in what is now South Sudan, while a recent clash between government forces and rebels that claimed around 80 lives was limited to the north of the country, Machar said.

Tokyo on Tuesday approved a plan to dispatch a GSDF engineering unit to South Sudan, which in July declared its independence and became the 193rd member of the United Nations.

The engineers dispatched for the GSDF mission, which will start in April and last five years, will construct roads and bridges in Juba and its vicinity.

An advance team of roughly 200 engineers will be sent to South Sudan in January, followed by about 300 more at a later date.

South Sudan plans to establish 33 embassies by yearend, including one in Japan, to expand the fledgling country's diplomatic ties with other countries and attract investment in the underdeveloped African nation, Machar said.

"We call on Japanese investors to come (to South Sudan)," he said, adding the country is offering investment opportunities in various sectors.

While development of the country's agricultural industry is the priority, investments are also being solicited to construct power stations, oil pipelines and refineries, and transportation infrastructure, Machar said.

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