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The BBC's Nick Bryant in Washington
"A positive step"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 February, 2001, 11:48 GMT
Kabila's whirlwind tour
President Mbeki and President Kabila
Diplomatic moves began with a meeting with Thabo Mbeki
By Jane Standley in Johannesburg

Some African presidents do not like to leave their countries too often for fear that they may be ousted from power while they are away.

But young Joseph Kabila appears to have no such worries.

Kabila's diplomacy
Tues Jan 30
President Mbeki
Wed Jan 31
President Chirac
Thurs Feb 1
President Kagame and Colin Powell
Fri Feb 2
Kofi Annan
He has astonished diplomats and other observers by meeting not only senior United States officials like Secretary of State Colin Powell, but also Congo's key adversary, the Rwandan leader, Paul Kagame.

Presidents Kagame and Kabila knew each other well when they were both exiled in Uganda, but overcoming more recent animosity will not be easy.

However, it is only this level of contacts between African presidents which will go any way to ending Congo's three-year, six-nation war.

President Kabila meets President Chirac
France has welcomed Kabila's peace moves
Importantly, it is being accompanied by a round of diplomacy by western nations who see a slim window of opportunity to help broker peace.

Joseph Kabila's father, Laurent Desire, was widely regarded as an obstacle to ending the war. He even briefly detained his own son last year after a mutiny by Congolese soldiers who refused to go to the front.

While meeting the arch-enemy may cause anger in Kinshasa, the Congolese people are extremely weary of the hardships war has brought.

Presient Kabila meets US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Colin Powell was impressed by Kabila's commitment
Diplomats and their capitals say they believe the youth and exile experience of President Kabila and some of his closest advisors may be giving him the confidence he is now showing.

He wants more for Congo than the sorry state it's in now. But he has not got a totally free hand. Joseph Kabila's security has been resting on troops from his father's old allies, Zimbabwe and Angola, and they will want to have their say too.

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See also:

26 Jan 01 | Africa
Kabila promises peace efforts
26 Jan 01 | Africa
Joseph Kabila sworn in
22 Jan 01 | Africa
Massacres in eastern Congo
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