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Congolese talks resume after sides agree to UN-monitored troop pullout

Congolese talks resume after sides agree to UN-monitored troop pullout

Formal talks between the parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo have recommenced after the Government and a major rebel group agreed to withdraw troops from disputed towns in the country's east, a United Nations spokesman announced today.

The resumption of the inter-Congolese dialogue – held in Sun City, South Africa – follows an agreement between the Government and the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) reached in the early hours of this morning, spokesman Farhan Haq told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

According to that agreement, the sides will withdraw forces from four locations in the eastern half of the country – the RCD from Moliro within five days and Pweto within 10 days, and the Congolese Armed Forces from Yayama and Kayaya, 120 kilometres west of Pweto, within 10 days.

Military observers and observers from a joint military committee will monitor the withdrawal.

The agreement was reached by a committee of senior officials from both parties, on the second day of a two-day meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, the spokesman said.

On Sunday, following the news that the RCD had taken the strategic south-eastern town of Moliro, UN Secretary-General Annan announced that the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) would be prepared to deploy military observers in Moliro and other disputed locations in the south, subject to security guarantees. He appealed to the Congolese parties to resume their inter-Congolese dialogue immediately.