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UN Chief Heading to Africa


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is heading to Nairobi Wednesday to attend the African Union summit on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Mr. Ban has repeatedly expressed his grave concern over recent violence in eastern Congo, where the rebel forces of General Laurent Nkunda launched a brief offensive that has displaced tens of thousands of panicked residents and stretched U.N. peacekeeping resources to the limit.

Mr. Ban spoke briefly with reporters at U.N. headquarters. "Today, I am heading to Kenya for the U.N.-backed summit of the African Union, concerning the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," he said. "I will sit down together with President Kabila [of DRC] and President Kagame [of Rwanda] and encourage them to find a path to peace."

Mr. Ban, who just returned from a trip to the Philippines and Southeast Asia, said he has been on the phone daily in recent days with world leaders working to resolve this conflict.

Congo's government has been reluctant to open talks with the rebel leader it accuses of getting support from neighboring Rwanda. Asked if he would press President Kabila to open up direct talks with General Nkunda, Mr. Ban said he would encourage him to engage in dialogue with all actors, including with the general.

Following his trip to Nairobi, the secretary-general will continue on to Egypt to attend a meeting of the Middle East Quartet.



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