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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
UN envoys discuss Congo peace force
President Laurent Kabila of DR Congo
The UN team is meeting President Kabila
A team of UN Security Council ambassadors has arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo to discuss the UN peacekeeping mission in the country.

Members of the delegation are meeting Congolese President Laurent Kabila to discuss, in particular, the planned deployment of 500 military observers and 5,000 support troops to monitor the ceasefire in the Congo.



We will be looking at the politics, to see if we think the elements are there for an agreement

UK Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock
Headed by Richard Holbrooke, the US ambassador to the UN, the team comprises members from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Namibia, Mali, the Netherlands and Tunisia.

"This is a difficult mission but a necessary one," Mr Holbrooke told reporters before he left for Kinshasa.

Security guarantee

The delegation is also due to witness the Congolese Government signing the UN Status of Forces Agreement, in which it commits itself to guaranteeing the security and freedom of movement of all UN personnel.


Richard Holbrooke
Holbrooke: "A difficult mission but a necessary one"
In addition to an effective ceasefire these are essential conditions for a deployment, which the Congolese Government had previously been reluctant to concede.

"We will be looking at the politics, to see if we think the elements are there for an agreement," UK ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said before leaving for Kinshasa.

After leaving the Congo, the envoys will visit Zambia, which hosted the original peace talks, Zimbabwe, which has sent troops in support of President Kabila, and Rwanda and Uganga which are backing the rebels.

Optimism

Our correspondent in Kinshasa says there is currently some reason for cautious optimism.

A renewed ceasefire which went into effect on 14 April has largely been upheld, the delegation is expected to put pressure on Mr Kabila to stick to his commitment.

Although the deployment of the UN force has been tentatively scheduled for June, it could be delayed further if fighting once again flares up.

Various rebel forces, based in the east of the Congo, have seized control of about half of the country in a civil war lasting more than 18 months.

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See also:

30 Apr 00 | Africa
Kabila: UN 'dragging its feet'
24 Feb 00 | Africa
UN approves Congo force
03 Dec 98 | Zimbabwe
Mugabe's unpopular war
01 May 00 | Africa
DR Congo peace force pledge
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