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South Sudan close to cease-fire

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Leaders for warring sides in South Sudan’s monthlong internal conflict say they are close to signing a cease-fire.

A military spokesman, meanwhile, said army forces retook the key city of Bor on Saturday, defeating 15,000 rebels.

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In Ethiopia, where talks are taking place, rebel negotiator Mabior de Garang said he hoped the agreement would be signed Saturday night.

Rebel negotiators have indicated a major concession in that the deal would not include previous demands tying any cessation of hostilities to the immediate release of 11 key political detainees. That sticking point and other issues would be discussed after a cease-fire is signed and hostilities end, they indicated.

In Juba, the capital of South Sudan, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said he believed a cease fire would be signed Sunday or Monday. He confirmed the release of detainees is not part of the agreement.

Fighting broke out Dec. 15 and spread throughout the country after whole army units defected. Thousands are believed dead.

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