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Rwanda Agrees Neutral Monitoring of Border With Congo

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July 12 (Bloomberg) -- Rwanda accepted third-party monitoring of its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo after accusations that it’s supporting a rebellion that has displaced more than 220,000 Congolese.

Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Rwanda agreed to “a range of measures aimed at de-escalating the crisis” at a meeting of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. The measures include renewed action against a Rwandan Hutu rebel group in Congo’s east, she said. The conference didn’t say who the third-party supervisor will be.

“There is a clear need to rebuild trust amidst the swirling allegations over the past several weeks,” Mushikiwabo said in a statement published today on the Rwandan Foreign Ministry website.

Since the beginning of the month, a Congolese rebel group known as M23 has increased its control of Rutshuru territory in Congo’s North Kivu province, causing the army to withdraw from strategic towns near the border with Rwanda and Uganda.

Congo and the United Nations Group of Experts have accused Rwanda of supporting the rebellion, which is led mainly by ethnic-Tutsi soldiers who deserted the army beginning in April. Rwanda denies the charge.

The Great Lakes conference, in an e-mailed statement signed by foreign ministers and representatives from 10 countries yesterday, called for a “neutral international force to eradicate” M23 and other rebel forces in the region.

Crisis Talks

The group’s meeting was attended by four defense ministers, the statement said, including Rwanda’s James Kabarebe, who was accused of helping to coordinate M23’s rebellion in a June 29 report by the UN’s Group of Experts.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan leader Paul Kagame to discuss the crisis, according to an e-mailed statement from his office.

Ban “expressed grave concern over reports that the M23 mutineers fighting government forces in North Kivu are receiving external support,” according to the statement.

Kagame and Kabila are due to attend the African Union summit starting July 15 in Addis Ababa.

To contact the reporters on this story: Saul Butera in Kigali, Rwanda, at sbutera2@bloomberg.net; Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa at mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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