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Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 21:50 GMT 22:50 UK
Quick UN Congo force urged
Hoolbroke and President Kabila
A UN delegation led by Mr Holbrooke met President Kabila recently
The American ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, has called for the immediate deployment of UN observers to the Democratic Republic of Congo to prevent a renewed war.

Briefing the UN Security Council on his recent visit to Congo, Mr Holbrooke said it was vitally important to send troops to the diamond-rich eastern city of Kisangani within weeks.


Uganda troops in Congo
Ugandan and Rwandan troops clashed in Kisangani last month
"We believe that getting a UN unit, of whatever nationality is deemed appropriate, there immediately in the next few weeks is absolutely critical," he said.

"Otherwise the risks of war beginning again are very substantial," he warned.

The UN troops are expected to take control of the city where rebels backed by Ugandan and Rwandan troops have been involved in recent fierce fighting.

Troops from Uganda and Rwanda have also been fighting each other in Kisangani.

But the two nations have just agreed to withdraw their troops from the city.

National dialogue

Mr Holbrooke's comments came as the former president of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire - who is mediating in the conflict in DR Congo - arrived in the eastern rebel-held town of Goma for talks with rebel leaders.


Mr Kabila of DR Congo
Mr Kabila will have to organise a national dialogue
Sir Ketumile will also meet President Kabila, in preparation for a proposed national dialogue.

The national dialogue is considered important in the UN-backed peace process in Congo, but little progress has been made so far.

Mr Masire took on the role of mediator last year and has described his mission as difficult but not impossible.

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See also:

10 May 00 | Africa
UN faces risks in DR Congo
08 May 00 | Africa
Congo town pull out agreed
24 Feb 00 | Africa
Congolese face the future
24 Feb 00 | Africa
UN approves Congo force
05 May 00 | Africa
UN failing in Africa
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