Congolese gov't, rebels expected to talk

June 10, 2013 at 10:31 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, June 10 (UPI) -- Members of the rebel March 23 Movement and the Congolese government are called on to work in earnest toward peace, U.N. special envoy Mary Robinson said.

The former Irish president, serving as a U.N. special envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, said she was encouraged by word the M23 rebel group may hold peace talks with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

M23 are suspected of committing war crimes during their rebel campaign. A U.N. report in March said the rebel movement had stepped up its fighting in response to the deployment of a special peacekeeping brigade that's sanctioned to take offensive measures to ensure DRC stability.

Robinson said M23 and DRC talks could get under way "soon" in Uganda. Robinson, in a statement issued by her spokesman's office, said a political solution was needed to end the fighting.

"She urges both sides to engage in earnest in their discussions in order to resolve all outstanding issues in the negotiations and to move toward the normalization of the situation in the eastern DRC," she said in a statement Saturday.

The United Nations estimates more than 130,000 people are displaced by fighting that began in April 2012. Some 43,000 others have fled to neighboring countries.

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