The “leaders of South Sudan” are to visit the Vatican next week, a spokesman said Wednesday.
Media reports said arch-rivals President Salva Kiir and rebel leader and former vice president Riek Machar were expected to be at the Vatican on April 9 and 10.
“I can affirm that scheduled next week in the Vatican is a spiritual retreat for the leaders of South Sudan,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told AFP
But rivalry between Kiir and Machar unleashed a civil war in 2013 characterised by brutal violence, rape and UN warnings about ethnic cleansing.
More than 380,000 people have died and four million people have fled their homes.
Machar is planning to return next month under a peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa last September, but the process has been overshadowed by fears of insecurity and lack of preparation.
Pope Francis has repeatedly voiced concern for South Sudan.
He granted an audience to Kiir last month and afterwards said he hoped to visit the country to “encourage the peace process.”