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The BBC's Jane Standley in Lusaka
"Words of peace have been spoken here"
 real 56k

Rwandan government spokesman Joseph Bideri
"The Rwandan president is not under pressure"
 real 28k

Friday, 16 February, 2001, 15:23 GMT
Rwanda 'not an obstacle to peace'
Joseph Kabila
Kabila: Wants "gesture of peace" returned
Rwanda has dismissed the moves for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed at a regional summit on Thursday as representing nothing new.

Rwanda itself, which is the main backer of the rebels, boycotted the summit in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, alleging that Zambia was biased against it.


The Rwandans' actions are disappointing

US State Department
Government spokesman Joseph Bideri told the BBC that the participants had merely endorsed agreements already reached in the original 1999 Lusaka peace accord, which he said Rwanda fully supported.

Mr Bideri said Rwanda was not an abstacle to peace and said he was glad Congo had now returned to backing the accord.

But he dismissed suggestions that it was now Rwanda's turn to make a gesture to promote peace - he said Rwanda had already offered to make more substantial troop withdrawals than any other of the warring parties.

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila had urged Rwandan President Paul Kagame to reciprocate his "gesture of peace" and the US State Department said the Rwandan leader's absence from the summit had not been helpful.

Progress

Progress was made in Lusaka on a number of key issues - notably the Congolese leader's acceptance of a peace mediator, whose appointment had long been delayed.

Former Botswanan leader Ketumile Masire would be invited to Kinshasa to relaunch peace talks in the next few days, Mr Kabila said.

President Paul Kagame
Mr Kagame: Zambia not neutral
"We have extended our hand in a gesture of peace. We expect the same from our aggressors and our brothers for the benefit of the people of Congo."

Amongst other steps forward, a definite date of 26 February was agreed for the deployment of more United Nations peace observers, ahead of UN talks on the peace process next week in New York.

And one of the Congolese rebel groups, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, has also agreed to disengage its forces from the front lines.

The other main rebel backer, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda also did not turn up.

He is in the middle of a presidential election campaign, but he sent a high level delegation.

The war has drawn five neighbouring nations into active combat and had a major impact on several more.

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See also:

02 Feb 01 | Africa
Kabila's whirlwind tour
26 Jan 01 | Africa
Kabila promises peace efforts
22 Jan 01 | Africa
Massacres in eastern Congo
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