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Rwanda and Congo Reach Peace Accord

July 23, 2002|From Times Wire Services

PRETORIA, South Africa — Congolese and Rwandan leaders said Monday that they had reached an agreement to end a four-year war in Congo--a fight that has defied resolution as it claimed more than 2 million lives, mostly from starvation and disease.

"We have reached an understanding and agreement at a technical stage," said South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who chaired the talks.

A Rwandan government official in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, said the two sides had signed a memorandum of understanding restating their commitment to the Lusaka peace agreement of 1999.

Congo agreed to track down former Rwandan army soldiers and Hutu Interahamwe militia within the territory it controls in collaboration with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, the official said.

Rwanda blames the ex-soldiers and militias for the slaughter of about 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994 and has accused Congo of harboring them.

Rwanda pledged to withdraw its troops from Congo once effective measures had been undertaken to address its security concerns.

The government official said Congo, Rwanda and South Africa agreed on a timetable, which could see Rwanda start pulling out its troops no later than 90 days from the date the deal is signed by presidents Joseph Kabila of Congo and Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

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