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Bush, Kabila Discuss Political Stability in DRC Congo - 2003-11-05


President Bush says the United States will continue to help meet humanitarian needs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mr. Bush met with Congo's president to discuss the search for political stability after years of fighting in central Africa.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila says the Oval Office meeting focused on what he calls the positive evolution of the situation in Congo where a new constitution and an interim administration is aimed at ending years of conflict.

President Kabila leads a power-sharing agreement that calls for new elections by 2005. He and President Bush discussed plans for those elections during their talks.

The Congolese leader said he also promised to continue cooperating in the fight against terrorism and spoke of the need for support from the United States and the international community to help meet Congo's considerable humanitarian needs. "It was a good meeting, a very positive meeting, and we expect quite a lot from this particular meeting," he said.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said it was a good and positive discussion during which President Bush expressed his continuing support for Congo's political transition. He said the leaders also discussed joint efforts to improve trade and development and fight terrorism and AIDS.

The president commended President Kabila for his strong leadership and his commitment to reconciliation, free elections, and addressing human rights abuses and corruption. The president told President Kabila that we would continue to work with him to address the security problems in Eastern Congo and the president reaffirmed our commitment to continue providing humanitarian assistance to relieve human suffering in the Democratic Republic of Congo," he said.

This was the fourth meeting between the two leaders since Mr. Kabila took office in January 2001 following the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila, who came to power at the head of a rebellion that toppled long-time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997.

That alliance ended a year later when Rwanda and Uganda backed a new rebellion to unseat the elder Kabila whose government was supported by soldiers from Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

The power-sharing deal signed earlier this year in South Africa appears to have ended most of the major fighting, though there is continuing violence in the Eastern provinces between ethnic Hema and Lendu.

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