WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he's selected his outgoing ambassador to Ethiopia to be the U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan.
Obama says Donald Booth will lead U.S. efforts to implement security agreements the two countries agreed to last year, including disputes over borders and oil. Booth will also work on human rights issues in Darfur and other areas.
Obama and Booth met in the Oval Office on Wednesday ahead of the announcement. Obama in a statement said the two nations' governments should show political courage and put their people's interests first in the name of peace and progress.
South Sudan peacefully broke away from Sudan in 2011, but tensions between the countries remain high, especially over their intertwined oil industries. The U.N. Security Council last month demanded an end to escalating violence in Sudan's Darfur region and more robust action by peacekeepers
Secretary of State John Kerry says this is a decisive period where Sudan and South Sudan can choose peace or go backward. He says when people voted for South Sudan's independence, they weren't voting to create a failed state or return to longstanding violence.
Kerry says the cause of Sudan and South Sudan is personal to him and to the president's national security adviser, Susan Rice, who worked on Sudan issues in the Clinton administration and as Obama's former U.N. ambassador.
Booth is a career diplomat who has represented the U.S. in multiple African countries. The Senate confirmed him as ambassador to Ethiopia in 2010.