JUBA, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it has offered to facilitate rebel leader Riek Machar's much-awaited return to Juba to work with President Salva Kiir in a bid to boost trust and confidence between the former warring parties during the pre-transitional period.

David Shearer, special representative of the Secretary General and head of UNMISS told journalists that he has been in touch with the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) whom he assured of support and facilitation from UNMISS to return to Juba.

"Personally it would be better if he came back to Juba. I think it would be reassuring to the population to see the two leaders here in Juba talking together about how they want to move forward that would give confidence to the people," Shearer told Xinhua in an interview.

This came after President Kiir called on his rival Machar to return to Juba so that they expedite the process of implementing the peace deal the two signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia under auspices of the regional body Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

"But anything we can do we have made it very clear to everybody. I spoke to Dr. Riek ten days ago and said to him if there is anything we can do in terms of transport and whatever else, we are going to do that. We just want to see that move forward," said Shearer.

The warring parties recently agreed to extend the pre-transitional period for another six months after they failed to form the transitional unity government on May 12, citing delay in implementing key outstanding issues like security arrangement, unification of their forces and determination of number of states and boundaries.

A perception survey by UNMISS this week showed that at least 70 percent of South Sudanese are feeling safe living in the country after the warring parties signed the revitalized peace agreement.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar leaving tens of thousands killed and 4 million people displaced both internally and externally.

The 2015 peace agreement collapsed after outbreak of renewed fighting in Juba in July 2016, which forced Machar to flee into exile.

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