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Monday, 24 January, 2000, 15:18 GMT
Clinton backs Burundi peace drive

Burundi refugees The war has created a severe refugee crisis


By Africa correspondent Jane Standley

United States President Bill Clinton has pledged his personal support for Nelson Mandela's attempts to bring peace to Burundi.

The former South African president, who was appointed chief mediator for Burundi last year, held his first round of talks with the country's warring political leaders a week ago.

He says the US president will join the peace talks later this year, either in person or by video conferencing.


Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela: Seeking foreign support
Mr Mandela is to resume his talks with Burundian political leaders next month, despite not being welcomed initially as a mediator by some of the diverse factions involved in the conflict.

Representatives of the mainly Hutu rebel groups had accused South Africa of being biased towards Burundi's Tutsi-led military government and of selling it arms.

Outside assistance

It is against this background that Mr Mandela, widely regarded as Africa's leading statesman, is recruiting as much outside assistance as he can.


Bill Clinton Bill Clinton: Unusual intervention
He has also asked the French President, Jacques Chirac, to help him find a settlement in one of Africa's most vicious civil wars.

But it is the input of President Clinton which will matter most.

It is highly unusual for a US leader to become involved in finding an end to a war in Africa.

President Clinton's ambassador at the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, has declared January the month of Africa at the UN.

Sessions have already been held on the impact of Aids on Africa's future stability.

The wars in Angola and in the Democratic Republic of Congo are also to be discussed.

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See also:
24 Jan 00 |  Africa
Security Council debates Congo conflict
20 Jan 00 |  Africa
Uncertainty over Burundi camps pledge
20 Jan 00 |  Africa
Burundi pledges to close 10 camps
16 Jan 00 |  Africa
Mandela slams Burundi's 'failed' leaders
03 Nov 99 |  Africa
Burundi's deadly deadlock
13 Oct 99 |  Africa
Eyewitness: Inside Burundi's camps
13 Nov 99 |  Africa
UN alarmed over Burundi camps
07 Jan 00 |  Africa
Burundi army blamed for massacre
01 Dec 99 |  Africa
Mandela to head Burundi peace drive

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