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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
DR Congo rebels 'want' peace talks
Boats on the Congo in Kisangani
The Congo river used to be Kisangani's lifeline
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By Barnaby Phillips
Kisangani
line
A mission from the United Nations has arrived in the city of Kisangani, as part of a peace effort to end the four-year civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kisangani
Kisangani has been ravaged by war
The envoys are holding talks with the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD), a rebel faction backed by Rwanda, which controls the city.

Yesterday, the UN team held closed-door discussions with President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa.

The UN ambassadors are travelling across central Africa to try to revive the peace process, after Rwanda and the RCD rejected a partial settlement last month.

Neglect

Kisangani was once a beautiful and elegant city. Its position on the River Congo gave it great economic importance.

Today, the colonial warehouses which line the waterfront are in ruins.

There are no cars on the streets, and the buildings are pock-marked with bullet holes.

These are the result of fierce fighting between Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers - just two of the foreign armies involved in Congo's war.

The RCD told the UN ambassadors that it would like revived peace talks with the government as soon as possible.

That is certainly the will of the people who live in this neglected city, and who feel so cut off from the rest of the world.

Later, the UN ambassadors are due to attend the arrival of a barge which has come up river from the capital Kinshasa.

This, however, is a purely symbolic event. The Congo River remains closed to normal commerce, meaning this country's great economic lifeline is sadly neglected.

See also:

30 Apr 02 | Africa
UN envoys meet DR Congo leader
29 Apr 02 | Africa
Great Lakes peace mission starts
12 Apr 02 | Africa
Hopes rise for DR Congo peace
11 Apr 02 | Africa
DR Congo peace talks extended
16 Mar 02 | Africa
Fighting flares in DR Congo
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