Rwanda, Zimbabwe Agree to Push DRC Peace Process

Harare- Zimbabwe (PANA) -- Rwanda and Zimbabwe said on Monday they had agreed to advance the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after one-day talks between the presidents of the two countries.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday for talks with President Robert Mugabe on the shaky peace process in the DRC, where the two countries have fought on opposing sides since 1998.
Rwanda and Uganda support Congolese rebels fighting to topple the government, while Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia back DRC leader Joseph Kabila.
After three hours of closed door talks, the two leaders told a press conference they had agreed to abide by the Lusaka peace accord, brokered by Zambia, under which the opposing sides have committed themselves to a gradual pullout of their troops and allowing the UN to deploy peace keepers.
"The discussions were positive and in support of the peace process that is underway in Congo.
Rwanda, is prepared to withdraw completely as soon as our concerns have been addressed," said President Kagame.
He said Rwandese troops had completed withdrawing from frontline positions, as demanded under the Lusaka peace agreement, to create a buffer zone where the UN is deploying its peace keepers.
President Mugabe said Zimbabwe, which has an estimated 12,000 troops deployed in the DRC, was equally committed to ending the war in Congo.
"We had a very good exchange of views on the DRC in relation to the war, and agreed to move forward with the peace process," he said.
Diplomats said Rwanda maybe anxious now to pull out from the DRC after the UN accused Kigali last month of looting mineral and other resources in areas its army occupies in from the Congo.
"He (President Kagame) is certainly trying to reach out to the DRC, through President Mugabe, to heal the wounds and ensure long-term good neighbourliness," said a southern African diplomat.

07 may 2001 21:04:00

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