UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said on Wednesday that the current situation in South Sudan " needs to be dealt with through political dialogue," warning that the ongoing violence in the capital could be spreading to other parts of the world's youngest country.
"I am deeply concerned about the current situation in South Sudan," Ban told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on peace and security challenges in Africa.
"This is a political crisis, and urgently needs to be dealt with through political dialogue," he said. "There is a risk of this violence spreading to other States, and we have already seen some signs of this."
The fighting between members of the South Sudanese army in South Sudan capital of Juba was reportedly sparked by an attempted coup and has killed hundreds of people, including civilians. Violence spread to the flashpoint town of Bor on Wednesday, raising fears of a broader civil conflict, reports said.
"I spoke to (South Sudan) President Salva Kiir yesterday morning, urging him to do everything possible he can to end the violence and to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law," Ban said. "I also impressed on him the need to resume dialogue with the political opposition."
"I welcome the reports this morning that President Salva Kiir is willing to enter into such talks," Ban said.
The UN chief said he has also spoken to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda "because of his role as regional leader," noting that the UN special representative to South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, remains in constant contact with the government and others with influence on the situation.
Meanwhile, Ban urged security forces of the country to operate in full compliance with international humanitarian law.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) continues to support civilians in its two compounds in Juba -- now numbering close to 20,000 -- as well as several hundred in Jonglei, he said.
He called on the South Sudanese government to cooperate fully with UNMISS as it fulfills its protection mandate, including in providing basic relief to civilians in need and in conducting human rights investigations into allegations of abuses in recent days.
"I count on President Salva Kiir's leadership at this critical moment," he said.
Kiir said Monday that an attempted coup launched overnight by soldiers loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar had been put down, and that "the situation has completely been controlled and the attempt failed."
Kiir declared a state of emergency in the country and imposed a curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. local time.
On Wednesday, Kiir said he was ready for dialogue with his rival, according to reports.
Deep differences emerged between two groups within the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement after Kiir removed Machar from office in July.
The youngest country on earth, South Sudan won independence from Sudan in July 2011.