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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 20:19 GMT 21:19 UK
DR Congo peace force accord
Richard Holbrooke and Laurent Kabila
Mr Holbrooke and President Kabila are optimistic
The United Nations has reached agreement with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo over plans for the deployment of peacekeeping troops in the country.

The accord provides for 500 UN military observers and 5,000 support troops to monitor the ceasefire between government and rebels.


Richard Holbrooke
Holbrooke: "A difficult mission but a necessary one"

Speaking after a two-hour meeting with President Kabila, the American ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, who is leading the UN delegation on a regional tour, hailed the accord as a major step forward.

The Status of Forces Agreement guarantees security and freedom of movement for UN personnel.

Commitment

The Congolese Government had been reluctant to sign such an agreement, and about 100 UN monitors who are already in the country have been denied access to certain key areas.

DRCongo's Foreign Minister, Abdoulaye Yerodia, said UN officials would still need permission to travel to government-held areas.

"It is normal that we [want to] know what is going on in our country," Mr Yerodia said.

The BBC's Stephanie Wolters in Kinshasa says it remains to be seen whether the government will now respect its commitment, and even if it does, the deployment remains far off.

Mr Holbrooke said it was unlikely the full UN force could be deployed before August.

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See also:

30 Apr 00 | Africa
Kabila: UN 'dragging its feet'
24 Feb 00 | Africa
UN approves Congo force
01 May 00 | Africa
DR Congo peace force pledge
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