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    Presidents Kagame And Kabila Hold "Constructive" Talks

    UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

    July 11, 2002
    Posted to the web July 11, 2002

    Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) held talks late on Tuesday in Durban, South Africa, on issues concerning the DRC conflict, news agencies reported.

    Central to the discussions - brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki - was the issue of a security zone to be created along the border between Rwanda and the DRC to prevent incursions of Hutu rebels from the DRC into Rwanda.

    While Kagame described the talks as having been both "productive" and "constructive", differences of opinion remained over the technicalities of such a zone: Kabila's government wanted Rwandan forces in the DRC to withdraw to their own borders, but Rwanda wanted the buffer-zone line to be drawn within DRC territory, Radio France Internationale reported.

    "What we want is a security curtain, consisting of UN troops on the border, with the Rwandans getting out of our country and staying on their side," AFP quoted DRC Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu as saying.

    "To be able to pull out our troops, we need our security concerns addressed. Those concerns are why we went into the Congo," the BBC quoted Kagame as telling reporters.

    Kagame added that he was willing to find a solution away from the battlefield, and said that these talks had made further talks on the situation possible, the BBC reported.

    Meanwhile, the spokesman for the United Nations Mission in the DRC, Hamadoun Toure, told IRIN on Wednesday that MONUC was ready and waiting "to take up the challenge" of being involved in the creation of a security zone, should it be requested to do so.

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