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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 13:40 GMT
Government returns to DR Congo talks
Presidents Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
Kabila and Mugabe are close allies
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By the BBC's Mark Dummett

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has returned to talks aimed at finding a lasting peace settlement for the country.

Its delegation walked out of the negotiations last week after a Rwandan-backed rebel faction launched an attack on one of its positions.

DR Congo rebels
The rebels deny they are being helped by Rwandan soldiers
But following a United Nations Security Council resolution urging the rebels to withdraw, the government announced it would resume its participation.

The so-called "Inter-Congolese Dialogue" has been given a deadline of 12 April to come up with a new constitution and power-sharing institutions.

Ceasefire violation

The talks in the South African resort of Sun City bring together rebel factions, officials, opposition political parties, as well as church and civic groups.

The rebel attack that prompted the government walkout was the largest reported ceasefire violation in a year.

It occurred when troops from a Rwandan-backed faction captured the government-held town of Moliro on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

On Tuesday, the Security Council condemned the fighting and called for the rebel faction, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD), to withdraw unconditionally from the town.

Mammoth task

The Congolese Foreign Minister, Leonard She Okitundu, said Kinshasa would participate in the talks only if the rebels complied with the Security Council resolution.

Earlier, the RCD said it would leave Moliro if UN peacekeepers deployed to prevent a government counter attack.

A team of unarmed military observers has since been flown into Moliro.

Delegates at the talks have the mammoth goal of resolving a war which has divided Congo into at least three parts, brought in the armies of six other African nations, and impoverished the population of 50 million people.

See also:

20 Mar 02 | Africa
Congo rebels condemned
18 Mar 02 | Africa
DR Congo talks follow fighting
14 Mar 02 | Africa
Congo peace talks hit by walk-out
13 Jan 02 | Africa
Kabila seeks peace at SADC summit
20 Dec 01 | Africa
Death rate soars in DR Congo
16 Mar 02 | Africa
Fighting flares in DR Congo
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