Congo Peace Talks to Start in Three Days, Regional Summit Says

Peace talks between the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government and the M23 rebels should start in three days and be completed within 14 days, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa said.

“Belligerent forces on the ground are urged to exercise maximum restraint so as to enable the talks to be rapidly concluded,” Butesa said, reading a communique after a regional summit today in Kampala, Uganda’s capital.

Negotiations between the government and the rebels broke off following recent fighting in eastern Congo. M23 insurgents defected from Congo’s army last year after the breakdown of a 2009 peace agreement. The rebels held Goma for 11 days in November before withdrawing under international pressure to begin peace talks with the government. Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting M23, which Rwanda denies.

Today’s summit was attended by presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, Congo’s Joseph Kabila and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir.

Eastern Congo has suffered more than 15 years of conflict since the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide spread across the border. Dozens of rebel groups are still active in the region, a decade after the official end of fighting.

“We have accepted to come back to the talks, but they must be concluded quickly,” Congolese Deputy Prime Minister Alexandre Luba Ntambo said earlier in an interview.

M23 spokesman Amani Kibasha’s was phone on voice mail when called for comment.

Eastern Congo, which shares borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, is rich in tin ore, tungsten and tantalum, and armed groups and members of the army sometimes profit from mineral sales, according to the United Nations. Congo is Africa’s biggest tin producer.

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