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The BBC's Angus Roxburgh in Brussels
"In Brussels some of the president's fellow countrymen demonstrated"
 real 56k

Saturday, 3 February, 2001, 20:15 GMT
Belgium backs Kabila
Joseph Kabila, DR Congo president, meets Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt
Mr Kabila impressed the Belgian prime minister
The Democratic Republic of Congo's new president, Joseph Kabila, has wrapped up four intense days of diplomatic talks with a day in Belgium, the country's former colonial ruler.

President Kabila sought Belgian support for ending years of war "in the Great Lakes region and not just in the Democratic Republic of Congo," he said on Belgian radio.

Kabila makes the rounds
Tues Jan 30
President Mbeki, South Africa
Wed Jan 31
President Chirac, France
Thurs Feb 1
President Kagame, Rwanda, and
Colin Powell, US
Fri Feb 2
Kofi Annan, UN
Sat Feb 3
Guy Verhofstadt, Belgium
Mr Kabila, who became president after his father Laurent was assassinated in January, met Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Foreign Minister Louis Michel.

The Belgian premier urged the United Nations to try to organise a round-table meeting between all sides involved in the war in the country.

"What we shall do in the next days is to increase pressure on all parties to sit around a table and make a deal to execute the Lusaka agreement," he said.

Mr Verhofstadt also told reporters that Mr Kabila had "opened many doors" towards new peace talks in a speech he gave on Friday to the United Nations.

Joseph Kabila's father, Laurent, was widely viewed as creating obstacles to the peace process.

Mr Kabila is reported to have responded favourably to a Belgian request for him to engage in a process of national reconciliation with opposition forces.

The BBC Brussels correspondent says Belgium is still a diplomatic player in central Africa and its efforts could help to bring the sides together.

Mr Michel - who met a number of African leaders last week in an effort to revive the peace process - described the 29-year-old leader in positive terms after their two-hour meeting.

"He has already taken decisions, particularly in the economic sphere, which mark a veritable break with the past," Mr Michel said.

UN debut

The visit follows Mr Kabila's address to the UN Security Council, in which he urged the warring sides to sit down around a table with him to talk peace.

President Kabila at United Nations
Mr Kabila told the UN he wanted to revive the peace process
DR Congo has been carved up by warring factions, with the government controlling barely half of Africa's third-largest state.

Mr Kabila told the UN Security Council that his country had suffered too much and it was now vital that the peace process should be revived.

He called for a precise timetable for the disengagement of the warring parties within his country and the deployment of a 5,500-strong UN force.

The UN authorised such a force last year but has never deployed it in full because it has not been convinced that the warring factions are serious about peace.

Mr Kabila said a timetable should be set for the unconditional withdrawal of the Rwandan and Ugandan armies - which support rebel movements - and the eventual withdrawal Zimbabwean and Angolan forces, which support the government.

Need for progress

UN ambassadors appeared impressed by the new leader's statement, although several countries made it clear that they now want to see real progress on the ground.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame
Kagame: Breakthrough meeting with Kabila
The statement follows a string of meetings in the past four days with the key international peace brokers.

Mr Kabila met his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame in Washington on Thursday.

Rwanda argues that it needs to control eastern DR Congo because of the presence in the region of the Interahamwe - militia groups linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide - who Rwanda believes still pose a threat to its security.

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See also:

02 Feb 01 | Africa
Kabila's whirlwind tour
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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