Delegates for South Sudan's warring sides are gathering in Ethiopia for peace talks, in a bid to end weeks of violence that has left more than 1,000 people dead.
Reporter Marthe van der Wolf, who is in Addis Ababa for the peace talks, says talks will not begin until Thursday at the earliest.
Fighting continues in South Sudan as representatives of President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar prepare to meet. Officials said Wednesday there were renewed clashes between government troops and forces loyal to Machar in Bor, a town about 120 kilometers from the capital, Juba.
On Tuesday, rebels recaptured Bor, a key city they had briefly held before until being ousted by government forces last week.
The bloodshed in the world's newest country began in mid-December when Kiir accused his former vice president Machar of attempting a coup.
President Kiir and Machar have both committed to the peace talks in Addis Ababa, which are being brokered by IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an East African regional bloc.
The United States welcomed the talks and reiterated calls for an immediate end to the fighting. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S. will deny support to those who try to seize power and will "hold leaders responsible for the conduct of their forces."
The United Nations said South Sudan's violence has forced tens of thousands of civilians from their homes.
Witnesses said some of the violence is ethnically-motivated, with supporters of Kiir, a member of the Dinka tribe, and supporters of Machar, from the Nuer tribe, targeting each other for their background.
The government arrested several alleged coup plotters soon after the violence began. Hussein Mar Nyuot, a member of the rebel delegation to the peace talks, is urging the government to free political detainees.
"If you keep them in detention and you say you are going for peace, you are not giving a good gesture. So, we urge President Kiir and we are also asking the international community and members of IGAD to put pressure for the release of these detainees so that they can actually attend these reconciliation meetings in Addis Ababa or Nairobi."
"We don't want our country to degenerate into ethnic fighting. We want it to be handled as a political issue to be handled by the government and by the opposition that is fighting. We sit down."
The African Union also is urging President Kiir to free the prisoners and is threatening sanctions against those who incite violence.