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Sunday, October 18, 1998 Published at 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK

World: Africa

'Congo conflict threatens whole region'

Congolese President Laurent Kabila failed to turn up for the talks

The presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have called for an immediate ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country.

In a statement after a summit in Nairobi, Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni also called for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force.

"The summit noted with grave concern the escalation of the conflict, which has taken a wider dimension, threatening to engulf the whole region including the East Africa sub-region," the statement said.

The conflict was causing "an influx of refugees into neighbouring countries, the displacement of populations, threats of genocide and decline in trade and investments," it added.

There was no indication of which countries should participate in a neutral force or if any plans had already been drawn up.

Security concerns

[ image: President Kabila has refused to hold talks with the rebels]
President Kabila has refused to hold talks with the rebels
The East African leaders also called for the security concerns of neighbouring countries to be addressed.

Uganda has admitted having troops inside the Democratic Republic of Congo but says they are there to confront rebels who are fighting to oust President Museveni.

The summit at State House in Nairobi came one week after rebels battling President Kabila won control of the strategically-important town of Kindu.

Following the setback for the government, President Kabila's ally, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, gave an assurance that he would continue to support President Kabila militarily.

President Kabila has so far refused to hold talks with the rebels - he says they are puppets of Uganda and Rwanda.

He accuses the two countries, who helped put him in power, of invading the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia have intervened on the side of President Kabila.

Sudan yesterday also pledged its support during a brief visit by President Kabila.

Officials in Nairobi said it had been hoped that President Kabila would attend the summit but he did not turn up.

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