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DRC, Rwanda agree to de-escalate row

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The presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda have held talks at a time of increased tension over violence in eastern DRC.

DRC president Félix Tshisekedi said after the meeting in Angola that he and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame had agreed to restore trust and de-escalate tension.

Angolan president João Lourenço has been mediating the talks. He announced a “ceasefire” without giving any details.

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“I am pleased to announce that we have had positive results, in our view, in that we have agreed on a ceasefire, among other measures,” he said at the end of the talks.

On Wednesday, there were handshakes between the two leaders and some optimism judging by the Congolese president’s comments.

Tshisekedi said he and Kagame had agreed to normalise diplomatic relations which have been extremely tense in recent weeks.

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He also mentioned the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the M23 rebel group from its positions in eastern DRC.

However, the Congolese M23 rebels say talks between Kagame and Tshisekedi will not stop the fighting in eastern DRC.

M23 spokesperson Major Willy Ngoma has told BBC Great Lakes that the group will not withdraw from its positions.

He said this was a Congolese political problem to be solved among Congolese people.

The armed group says it fights for a “noble and just cause” of defending the rights of Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese, those it says are marginalised, but the Congolese government accuses it of being a Rwandan proxy.

Rwanda-DRC relations have been tense since M23 resumed attacks in North Kivu province in late March after nearly a decade without a major offensive.

Each side blames the other for starting the fighting, which has displaced more than 170,000 people, according to the UN.—BBC

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