Kagame, Blinken meet in Davos

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, attends a meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, right, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024
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Rwanda

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.

Blinken said the U.S. was committed to supporting efforts toward a peaceful resolution of differences between Rwanda and Congo, and avoiding conflict in the eastern DRC.

“We very much appreciate the work that’s been done, especially over the last couple of months and your leadership in trying to find a positive, peaceful way forward. I look forward to discussing that with you today,” Blinken said.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has long accused Rwanda and its president, Paul Kagame, of providing military support to M23 rebels, the latest iteration of Congolese Tutsi fighters to seize towns in parts of mineral-rich North Kivu.

The U.N. and human rights groups accuse M23 of atrocities including rape and mass killings and say it receives backing from Rwanda — but Rwanda denies any ties with the rebels.

In December, Congolese security forces and rebel groups agreed on a 72-hour cease-fire to de-escalate tensions in the country’s hard-hit east near the border with Rwanda, the White House announced just days before Congo’s presidential election.

But some of the region’s many rebel groups quickly distanced themselves, and neither government commented.

The U.S. said then the agreement had included the withdrawal of forces occupying the locality of Mushaki — seized in December by the M23 — and the RP1030 road, a main supply route in eastern Congo.

The wider region has struggled with conflict for decades as more than 120 armed groups fight for control of mineral resources or to defend their communities.

According to the U.N. humanitarian office, over 6.5 million people are displaced in Congo, 5.5 million of them in the three eastern provinces.

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