Friday, October 26, 2007

KABILA SEEKS US HELP FOR DRC ARMY !

By Mark Doyle - BBC world affairs correspondent.

DR Congo's army is trying to contain a rebellion in the east. A possible role for US military trainers in the Democratic Republic of Congo is expected to discussed at a meeting in the White House on Friday. The military situation in DR Congo will be a key topic of discussion at talks between US President George W Bush and Congolese President Joseph Kabila. US officials said Mr Kabila is due in the US with a large delegation.

The Congolese president is also expected to visit the headquarters of a big US mining company in Arizona. The US sees DR Congo as an important ally in Africa. A senior US diplomat, William Swing, has headed the big United Nations peacekeeping force there for several years, and the US has made large financial contributions to the UN force. US officials said that at their White House meeting Presidents Bush and Kabila would discuss "security sector reform" in DR Congo.
This could mean, primarily, the progress of the war in the east of the country and the role the US might play there.

Forces loyal to President Kabila have recently deployed around the positions of the breakaway general Laurent Nkunda who has so far refused to integrate his most effective soldiers into a coalition national army. President Kabila has told loyal troops they have "a green light" to prepare for the disarming of General Nkunda's men, although the main attack has yet to be launched.

The senior US official on African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week that the US was considering direct military training for parts of the Congolese army to improve its capacity to deal with what she called "negative forces".

On his trip to the US, President Kabila will also be talking to US business leaders attracted by DR Congo's rich mineral resources. US officials said he would be travelling to the state of Arizona to talk to a copper mining company, Phelps Dodge. The company has what it describes as one of the largest, highest-grade undeveloped copper and cobalt concessions in the world in DR Congo's southern province of Katanga.
BBC NEWS REPORT.

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