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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July, 2003, 05:57 GMT 06:57 UK
Solana tours for DR Congo peace

By Martin Plaut
BBC News

The European Union's head of security and foreign affairs, Javier Solana, was optimistic when he met journalists at the end of a day in which he had seen three presidents in their respective capitals.

French soldiers and local policeman in Bunia
Javier Solana will go on to inspect the EU troops in Bunia

He is in Uganda for talks with President Yoweri Museveni, following discussions with the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila and President Paul Kagame in Rwanda.

The hectic activity is all centred on one purpose - cementing peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Thursday, Mr Solana flies on to the war-torn town of Bunia to inspect the European Union's peacekeeping mission there.

Each of the presidents, Mr Solana said, had given their word that they were supporting the Congolese peace process.

The backing of Uganda and Rwanda is particularly important, since it was their intervention in 1998 that triggered the Congolese war, dragging in six countries and costing an estimated three million lives.

Getting Presidents Museveni and Kagame to live up to these promises is a task that lies ahead. But their verbal support is unequivocal.

The eastern Congolese town of Bunia is next on the itinerary where 1,800 European Union troops are keeping ethnic militia apart.

It has been no easy task, and a great deal is riding on Europe's first concerted attempt at such a mission so far from its shores.

Mr Solana will see for himself the difficulties of maintaining the peace in a country as complex as DR Congo.


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