Blinken Calls for Calm from Rwanda and DR Congo Leaders

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks during a press conference. PHOTO/AFP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda to urge de-escalation after a surge in clashes by rebels fighting Kinshasa.

Heading to Japan Tuesday from his latest crisis tour of the Middle East, Blinken spoke by telephone separately with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi about the “volatile situation” on their border, the State Department said.

Blinken “advocated for a diplomatic solution to the tensions between the two countries and urged each side take measures to de-escalate the situation, including removing troops from the border,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

M23 rebels, a mostly Tutsi-led force fighting in the east of the vast DRC, has ramped up attacks since last month, with the United Nations reporting another 200,000 people displaced.

Blinken after a previous flare-up last year visited both countries. He publicly backed Kinshasa’s claims that Rwanda was supporting the rebels.

Kagame’s government denies the claim but has called for action in the neighbouring country against Hutu extremists linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda which killed more than 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis.

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Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency. With 2,400 employees of 100 different nationalities, AFP has an editorial presence in 260 cities across 151 countries.