DR Congo

Kabila says he will consider U.S. invitation to Congo talks

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Harare (dpa) - President Laurent Kabila, leader of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), declined Monday to confirm he would attend peace talks to be convened in New York later this month by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke.
After further protracted consultation with his principal ally, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Kabila said before flying home that he would give his response when he was back in Kinshasa.

He arrived in Harare late Sunday, without prior warning. Diplomatic sources said he only received the invitation through the U.S. embassy in the Zimbabwe capital.

Organisation of African Unity Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim, a ''facilitator'' in the peace process, ex-president Ketumile Masire of Botswana, and Zambia's President Frederick Chiluba have already confirmed their attendance.

Holbrooke, after a tour of African states last month, convened the meeting of all parties to the conflict which has raged since August 1998 when Kabila's former Tutsi soldiers tried to overthrow him.

Mugabe dispatched 13,000 troops, now considered to be the mainstay of Kabila's continued rule.

The Zimbabwean leader Monday said they would ''return home when all allies are satisfied peace has been returned to the DRC''.

Last July's Lusaka peace accord, brokered by Chiluba, schedules their return when U.N. and OAU ceasefire monitors are in place.

Kabila's cool response echoed remarks reportedly made in Kinshasa by his interior minister, Gaetan Kakukdji, that the DRC government was unhappy with ''foreigners determined to organise the DRC people''.

Kabila said he and Mugabe had reviewed the entire peace process. ''Obviously we are disappointed by the numerous violations of the (Lusaka) ceasefire agreement, caused by those who aggress the DRC'', he said.

Mugabe deplored the failure of Western states to condemn support for the rebels by Uganda and Rwanda - ''there is no sense of urgency on their part and that worries us a lot,'' he said. dpa mh ba

AP-NY-01-10-00 1102EST

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 01/10/2000 11:02:27

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