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UN envoy briefs Kenyan leader on DRC crisis
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UN special envoy for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) crisis Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday held talks with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki during which the envoy briefed the Kenyan leader on the current crisis development in DR Congo.

During the talks the former Nigerian president briefed President Kibaki who is also the chairman of the of Great Lakes Regional Peace Initiative on the progress of the ongoing peace initiative to resolve the conflict in Eastern DR Congo after meeting the key parties to the dispute in Kinshasa, Kigali, Goma and Luanda.

A statement from President Kibaki's office said that the two leaders appealed to the parties concerned to uphold the negotiated ceasefire and urged them to open a humanitarian corridor to allow unhindered flow of assistance to displaced victims of the conflict.

President Kibaki noted that there is need to sustain the high momentum of resolving the conflict and upholding of all other peace accords that have been signed previously until lasting peace is achieved.

"The head of state appealed to the combatants to give dialogue and the ongoing peace talks a chance, noting that nonviolent settlement of disputes remains the most viable option of resolving contentious issues," the statement said.

The talks which were also attended by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa who together with Obasanjo are the lead facilitators of the peace initiative noted there was urgent need to stop further human suffering and loss of innocent lives.

The leaders underscored the need for aid workers to be granted unhindered access to the tens of thousands of people who have been displaced by the violence.

Obasanjo has expressed optimism in his initial consultations, saying that the two leaders have agreed to take part in UN-backed peace process without any preconditions.

The former Nigerian leader told a news conference in Nairobi on Monday that rebel leader Gen. Laurent Nkunda who is fighting the government of President Joseph Kabila in the eastern part of the vast country had also said he would respect a ceasefire if the Congolese government did.

Obasanjo who held consultations with Nkunda on Sunday at Jomba in DR Congo's North Kivu province said the rebel leader agreed to respect a ceasefire, open a humanitarian corridor for aid agencies to assist refugees and support the UN peace initiative.

He said his meeting with Nkunda had gone well but cautioned that more concerted efforts are needed to push forward the process.

Weeks of fighting between Nkunda's Tutsi rebels and government troops and their militia allies have displaced about a quarter of a million civilians, creating a humanitarian crisis.

The UN said the conflict that began in August between Gen. Nkunda's fighters and government forces has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

(Xinhua News Agency November 18, 2008)

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