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Monday, November 2, 1998 Published at 02:20 GMT

World: Africa

Allies pledge new drive against rebels

Rebel soldiers control large parts of the eastern Congo

Regional allies of the Congolese President, Laurent Kabila, have pledged to step up their military support in driving rebels out of the east of the country.

The statement follows talks in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi between Mr Kabila and the presidents of Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Speaking after the summit, Zimbabwe's President Mugabe said the allies were launching an offensive "to clear the enemy" from Congolese territory.

[ image: President Kabila refuses to talk to rebels]
President Kabila refuses to talk to rebels
Lubumbashi, Mr Kabila's home town, is being used as a major base for allied troops, including some of Zimbabwe's 6,000 troops in Congo.

Angola, Namibia and Chad have also sent troops to support President Kabila. Uganda and Rwanda have been accused of providing military support for the rebels.

US mediation

The three leaders are also reported to have rejected American efforts to end the fighting.

[ image: President Mugabe has been accused in Zimbabwe of exceeding his authority]
President Mugabe has been accused in Zimbabwe of exceeding his authority
The Zimbabwean news agency, Ziana, quoted President Mugabe as saying: "Those who want to talk peace must note that peace comes when those who have invaded have withdrawn because they have no right to be in that territory.

"They should talk more with invaders and exert pressure on them to pull out."

A senior American envoy, Susan Rice, is touring the region. She is due in Zimbabwe on Monday.

President Mugabe - who has faced protests from Zimbabweans angry at their involvement in the Congo war - also disputed rebel claims of rapid advances from their eastern strongholds.

"We are fighting and not losing any ground," he was reported as saying.

The latest attempt to forge a cease-fire agreement failed at a two-day summit last week in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, when Congolese rebels were excluded from the meeting.

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