WASHINGTON -- The United States on Saturday recognized the Republic of South Sudan, the world's newest nation, as a sovereign and independent state.
President Barack Obama said in a statement that, "This historic achievement is a tribute, above all, to the generations of southern Sudanese who struggled for this day."
South Sudan became independent after civil wars that spanned more than 50 years. Millions of people died in the conflicts as the black African tribes from the south battled the mainly Arab north for independence. The warring sides reached a peace deal in 2005.
The country's flag was officially raised for the first time over Juba, South Sudan's capital, on Saturday after the speaker of the legislature made a formal proclamation of independence from Sudan..
Obama said the people of South Sudan and Sudan "must recognize that they will be more secure and prosperous if they move beyond a bitter past and resolve differences peacefully."
"Lasting peace will only be realized if all sides fulfill their responsibilities," he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. will remain a "steadfast partner" as South Sudan seeks to build a free, democratic and inclusive society.
"The strong ties between our peoples go back many decades, and we are committed to continuing to build on the partnership we have already established in the years ahead," she said.
Clinton commended the government of Sudan on its decision to be the first to recognize South Sudan's independence.