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French foreign minister in Kinshasa for talks with Kabila

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (far left) arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital Kinshasa on Friday, saying the security situation in the country's east had "improved, but not enough" ahead of talks with leader Joseph Kabila.

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AFP - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa Friday, said the situation in the strife-torn east must improve.

Kouchner, who met Rwanda's President Paul Kagame Wednesday and meets the DR Congo leader Joseph Kabila on Friday afternoon, said "the rapprochement, understanding, dialogue" between the two leaders had "born fruits" politically.

"On the ground", however, "for men and women who live in the east, things have improved but not enough. This will certainly be a subject in the discussion with Kabila".

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"I know his stance on MONUC", Kouchner said referring to the large United Nations mission in the DR Congo. "I would like to know what we can do for the population in the Sud- and Nord-Kivu provinces so they see their situation improve".

The mandate for MONUC, a force of nearly 20,000 blue helmets and police whose mission has been criticised, was renewed for five months on December 23, 2009.

Kinshasa asked for MONUC's progressive retreat from the country so long as the east, where several armed groups are active, remains unstable.

Rwanda and the DR Congo broke off diplomatic ties in 1996 after Rwandan forces invaded eastern Congo in pursuit of rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels who had taken refuge there after the 1994 genocide.

Early in 2009, the two former foes conducted a joint military operation to strike against rebel forces in eastern DR Congo.

After his visit in Kinshasa, where he is only spending a few hours, Bernard Kouchner continues his African trip to the Republic of Congo's capital Brazzaville.

 

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