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Clinton Travels to DRC

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to meet Democratic of Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila in the capital, Kinshasa Monday.

Clinton is also scheduled to visit Goma, the capital of North Kivu State, where she will meet with victims of sexual violence. Abuse against women has soared since Kinshasa launched an offensive against rebels in January.

Before visiting the DRC, Secretary Clinton visited Angola Sunday where she pressed Luanda to fight graft, prosecute past human rights abuses and expedite democratic reforms.

DRC is the fourth stop on Clinton's seven-nation African tour.

Ambassador Bene M'Poko serves as the DRC's top envoy to South Africa. He told VOA that Secretary Clinton's visit will signal to the rest of the world that Congo is ready for international investment.

"We are very honored that Secretary Clinton can come to the DRC at this point in time," M'Poko said.

He said President Barack Obama has always supported Kinshasa's effort to stabilize the country after years of rebel insurgencies.

"You will recall that Senator Obama in 2006 sponsored a law in the United States Congress, which mandates the United States to provide military assistance, and technical assistance to the DRC so that we can have a strong army so that we can defend our borders," he said.

M'Poko said Kinshasa wants Washington fully to implement the military cooperation law as well as much needed humanitarian assistance.

"We are still waiting for the implementation of the law (President Obama sponsored). In addition to that, we are waiting for humanitarian assistance from the international community and especially from the United States because although we have pacified the country, there are still thousands and thousands of internally displaced people in the DRC," M'Poko said.

He said Kinshasa expects Washington's backing towards stabilizing the entire Central African region.

"We would like the United States to play a role in consolidating the peace agreement we have reached with our neighbors in the east. This is very important. As you know, we need to live in peace with our neighbors. And it is important that the United States plays a role in maintaining that peace," he said.

M'Poko said there are strong diplomatic relations between Kinshasa and Washington.

"The United States recognizes the importance of DRC…DRC has the resources it can contribute to the development of the region as well as the development of the continent of Africa. We can become an ally of the United States in the development of the region. Therefore our relationship with the United States will extend beyond just the bilateral relationship," M'Poko said.

Secretary Clinton is scheduled to meet with some victims of sexual violence, allegedly perpetrated by rebel insurgents in some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The United Nations estimates that about 3500 women have been raped - by perpetrators from both sides of the DRC conflict, since the beginning of the year.

M'Poko said Clinton will ascertain how the conflict has adversely affected Congolese after visiting areas of the conflict.

"The secretary of state will travel to Goma, which is eastern Congo. She will see firsthand the negative impact of the war. The damages done by the armed groups that are still running around eastern Congo where we need the humanitarian assistance to help the internally displaced people to return to their villages," M'Poko said.

Secretary Clinton is also expected to use her visit to denounce violence against women in conflict areas.