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UN Chief: Burundi President, Opponents Agree to Hold Talks

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has agreed to begin talks with opposition leaders to bring an end to a nearly year-long political crisis.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, listens as Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza speaks during a joint press conference in Bujumbura, Burundi, Feb. 23, 2016.

Ban announced the breakthrough Tuesday in the capital Bujumbura, where he arrived the day before for meetings with politicians and civil society groups.

The U.N. chief said that all sides had promised to engage in “inclusive dialogue.”

His visit comes a month after a U.N. Security Council delegation traveled to the country to press for negotiations among Nkurunziza and his opponents.

Burundi has been mired in a sometimes violent political crisis since April of last year, when Nkurunziza sought and won what is widely seen as an unconstitutional third term.

Observers fear the violence – which has killed more than 400 people and caused 230,000 more to flee the country – could tip into another civil war or worse, in the ethnically mixed Hutu-Tutsi nation.

Ahead of Ban Ki-moon’s visit, four people were killed in two separate grenade attacks in the capital over a 24-hour period.

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