Saturday, January 27, 2007

DR Congo first stop of UN Secretary General's African tour - BBC

BBC report via Kuna Jan 27 2007:
The United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Saturday began his African tour, aimed at bringing peace to the troubled Sudanese province of Darfur, by arriving to the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the UN Secretary's tour, which would take him to Ethiopia and Kenya, would focus on promoting peace in the African continent.

As for choosing Congo as first stop, Ban stated that the African country would act as neutral ground to launch peace talks regarding Darfur, adding that Congo hosts the largest UN peacekeeping force in the world with about 17, 000 soldiers deployed.

The UN official also pointed out that Congo still needed international support to strengthen democracy, revealing that he would discuss this issue with senior officials, namely President Joseph Kabila.

During his visit to Addis Ababa, the UN official will attend the African Union's (AU) summit to be held next Monday and meet with Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.

On his meeting with Al-Bashir, Ban pointed out that it was not scheduled on his tour agenda but stated that he would use seize the chance to express his deepest concern concerning the Darfur crisis.

He indicated that he would demand Al-Bashir reveal his intentions and stance vis a vis the idea of a UN-AU peacekeeping force, following initial reports that the Sudanese President approval of such a plan in principle.

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