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Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
DR Congo peace talks end early
Soldiers in Kisangani
There are still thousands of foreign soldiers in DR Congo
President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, have ended talks in Malawi aimed at moving towards peace in the Great Lakes region.

Mr Kagame said before leaving that he would pull his troops out of DR Congo only if the Hutu Interahamwe militia on the eastern border areas were disarmed and demobilised.

President Joseph kabila of DRCongo
Peace prospects are brighter since Joseph Kabila took over from his father

Rwanda supports one of the Congolese rebel factions and is one of several countries which still has troops in DR Congo.

The Rwanda president told reporters at Blantyre airport:" These things are interlinked in ensuring that there is no security threat for us after the withdrawal. You can't address one without the other."

Continue talking

Mr Kabila was not at the news conference, but ealier he had been seen sitting down next to Mr Kagame eating roasted nuts.

The Malawian President Bakili Muluzi who chaired the talks said certain agreements had been reached - but was unable to specify what they were.

"The most important thing is that the two leaders met and discussed the way forward. I wanted to encourage them to continue talking," he said.

President Muluzi did say, however, that a ministerial follow-up committee would be created.

Follow up

Mr Muluzi is the current chairman of the Southern African Development Community.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda
Rwanda wants its border protected from attacks by Hutu rebels

About 2,000 UN troops are already in DR Congo to help monitor the shaky ceasefire and a withdrawal of foreign soldiers from the frontline.

The next phase of the UN operation involves the deployment of more troops to begin a programme of voluntary disarmament.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose country is also involved in the war, is expected in Malawi on Saturday, when Mr Muluzi says he will brief him on the talks.

Ceasefire holding

Diplomatic efforts to seek to resolve Africa's largest conflict have intensified in recent weeks.

Rwandan and Congolese foreign and defence ministers met in Kigali 10 days ago - the highest level visit since renewed fighting between Rwanda and DR Congo's government.

And at the beginning of September UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan toured the region seeking to add fresh impetus to the peace process.

Diplomatic push

Attempts to broker a peace deal in the three year war have gathered pace since the assassination of Laurent Kabila in January of this year, and the arrival of his son Joseph to power.

A seven-month old ceasefire brokered by the UN has largely been respected.

Congolese waving their flag
A UN monitored ceasefire is holding for millions of anxious people

However, the Rwandan-backed rebels have warned that they intend to use force to recapture a key eastern Congolese town taken by Rwandan Hutu rebels earlier this month.

And the Mayi Mayi militia group have warned that they will undermine the peace process if they are not allowed to participate in talks on the country's political future - scheduled for Addis Ababa on 15 October.

Malawi presidential spokesman, Willy Zegani
"It was difficult to notice any tension between the two leaders"
See also:

17 Jul 01 | Africa
UN praises Congo advances
04 Jul 01 | Africa
Kabila in peace talks
26 Jan 01 | Africa
Kabila promises peace efforts
24 Jul 01 | Africa
Congo rejects UN co-ordinator
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