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Uganda Calls for Urgent Summit with DRC to Diffuse Border Tension
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Uganda has called for an urgent summit with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to diffuse the rising border tension that has so far left five people dead and several injured, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Okello Oryem, minister of state for international affairs, told Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday that several attempts at both military and ministerial level have not yielded much, thus warranting for an urgent summit between the countries.

He said the Ugandan government sent a senior minister to Kinshasa inviting the authorities there for talks but they have not turned up.

He noted that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has made various attempts to speak to his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila but in vain.

"So we now think that these two leaders should meet face to face so that these issues are sorted out," Oryem said.

Tensions between the two countries have escalated at the end of July when four Ugandan soldiers patrolling Lake Albert were captured by the Congolese government troops, who accused them of crossing into the DRC territory.

Days after the capture, the Congolese troops attacked an oil barge near the disputed Rukwanzi Island on Lake Albert, killing a British oil surveyor. A Congolese soldier was also killed in the exchange of fire.

It is indicated by earlier media report that the enchanting findings of oil potential estimated at 1 billion barrels along the border area is also a source of the recent skirmish.

Shortly after this attack, it is reported that unknown gunmen from DRC crossed into Uganda and attacked the border town of Butogota in Kanungu district, 450 km southwest of Kampala, killing three people and seriously injuring one.

Oryem warned that Uganda still has the right of self-defense and hot pursuit, but has decided to exploit all the diplomatic ways to defuse the tensions.

"We sent our Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kuteesa to Kinshasa to liaise with the officials there to arrange the summit as soon as possible so that these problems are solved," Oryem said.

He said Kuteesa, who left on Monday, will also have a meeting with Kabila to discuss the joint oil exploration between the two countries, Ugandan rebel groups hiding in DRC and the border dispute.

He also urged the DRC to use the bilateral and regional avenues to address its concerns instead of carrying out hostile activities.

Two top officials in the Ugandan cabinet, Security Minister Amama Mbabazi and Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga, both sent stern warnings over the weekend that the Ugandan army may consider to re-enter the DRC for self-defense.

Uganda sent troops into the DRC in 1998 to pursue the rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces, but the army was later reportedly involved in the fighting between factional forces and the plundering of the country's rich national resources.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2007)

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