President Salva Kiir and his bitter rival Riek Machar met face to face for the first time in nearly two years during a dinner hosted by Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Pictures released from the premier’s office showed the three leaders locked in a group hug smiling.
But delegates from the two warring sides have told the BBC that a peace deal to end the conflict that erupted in 2013 is still far off.
rebels said on Thursday that more time is needed to secure lasting peace in the country and it would be necessary to address the root causes of a civil war. “There is no shortcut to peace,” the group said in a statement after peace talks in Ethiopia between its leader Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir, the first time the two men had met since 2016, when a peace deal collapsed and fighting re-erupted between their forces.
SPLM/SPLA (IO) said the solution to the five-year civil war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and forced more than 3 million people to flee their homes, was to revisit the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Regional leaders have proposed another power sharing agreement that will see President Kiir retain his position while Mr Machar would resume his vice presidency duties.
The last deal, signed in August 2015, collapsed less than a year later, with both sides accused of violating the terms of a ceasefire and carrying out human rights abuses like massacres and rapes.
The United Nations, US and the African Union have all threatened punitive measures if the fighting does not stop by the end of this month.
Tens of thousands of people have died and more than four million others displaced since the fighting begun in December 2013 .