DR Congo

Kabila in Zimbabwe for Congo talks with Mugabe

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HARARE, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Congolese President Laurent Kabila was due to meet Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Monday for talks that aides said would focus on international efforts to end a 17-month-old war in the former Zaire.
Mugabe is Kabila's main ally in his war against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda who have been trying to topple him since August 1998.

Mugabe has deployed about 11,000 troops, a third of Zimbabwe's army, in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kabila also is backed by Namibia and Angola, with the pro-government armies fighting under the flag of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

"He (Kabila) is here for consultations, and they are continuing today. The aim is basically to see how they can assist the ongoing regional and international programmes to end the war and achieve durable peace in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the Great Lakes Region," a Zimbabwean government official told Reuters.

The two leaders, he said, would focus mainly on a meeting called by the United Nations Security Council on January 24 to discuss the Congo crisis. Key African leaders involved in the peace negotiations have been invited to the meeting by US Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, who holds the council presidency this month.

The United Nations has been asked to send peacekeepers to the Congo but the United States has hesitated, saying a peace pact signed in Zambia last July has not yet taken hold.

"They (Mugabe and Kabila) will also obviously exchange ideas on how the SADC Allied Forces can defend their positions against continued aggression by the rebels and their supporters," the government official said.

The meeting in Harare comes as about 2,000 Zimbabwean and Namibian troops were trapped and under rebel siege at Ikela in the Congo.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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