— The United States says the presidents of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo should meet to end a Congolese rebellion that Tuesday took control of a key provincial capital along the border with Rwanda.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the capture of the city of Goma by rebels from the M23 group is a dangerous and worrying sign for the Great Lakes region.
"We condemn the ongoing violent assault of M23 and the fact that it has now taken Goma in violation of the sovereignty of the DRC," said Nuland.
M23 rebels say they are ready to open talks with Kinshasa. But President Joseph Kabila's government says it will not negotiate with the group unless Rwanda is involved because Congo accuses Rwanda of sponsoring the rebellion.
Rwanda denies the allegations and says the issues are broader than any one rebel group. President Paul Kagame's government says President Kabila is failing to protect ethnic Tutsis in eastern Congo.
On Tuesday, the State Department's Victoria Nuland called on those leaders to join with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to end the crisis.
"We also bilaterally are working with Presidents Kagame, Kabila, [and] Museveni to encourage them to come together in a process of dialogue to reject any kind of military solution to the problems in eastern DRC, and instead set up a political process to address grievances, to renounce any kind of external support for M23," she said.
A June U.N. report accused Rwandan defense officials of backing M23, prompting the United States and some European countries to suspend military assistance to Kigali. Washington repeatedly has called on Rwanda to distance itself from the group.
Again, Victoria Nuland:
"We do think that Rwanda has got to be part of the solution here, that they have influence and that they need to use it with regard to demilitarizing the situation, getting the M23 to pull back, to ensure that they are not externally supported," said Nuland.
The U.N. Security Council was to have voted on Tuesday on a French-drafted resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and more international sanctions against M23 leaders. That vote is expected on Wednesday.
M23 rebels guard weapons given to them by the government's army, Goma, DRC, November 21, 2012.
A Congo government policeman hands in his weapon to M23 rebels during an M23 rally in Goma, DRC, November 21, 2012.
Congo government policemen, foreground, and civilians gather during a M23 rally in Goma, Congo, November 21, 2012.
A M23 fighter, wearing a belt of ammunition, walks down a street in Goma, after the rebels captured the city from the government army, November 20, 2012.
People walk the streets of Goma, DRC during a lull in the fighting, November 20, 2012. (VOA 100 Citoyens journalistes de RD Congo)
M23 rebels in the streets of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
M23 rebels enter Goma, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
M23 rebels celebrating their takeover of Goma, DRC, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
M23 spokesperson Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama entering Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
M23 Rebels patrolling in Goma, DRC, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)