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Masire Optimistic About Congolese Reconciliation - 2001-09-06

Ketumile Masire, the man who will attempt to help reconcile the previously warring factions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says there is reason for optimism. After meeting with the U.N. Security Council in a closed session, Mr. Masire told reporters a planned 45-day dialogue will not be easy but that he is encouraged by a spirit of "give and take" among the participants.

Mr. Masire, the former President of Botswana, is acting as the facilitator of what is called the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. The Dialogue, which starts October 15 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will bring together the Congo government, leaders of rebel groups, and representatives of non-governmental organizations. The hope is to create a structure that will sustain peace in the DRC.

Mr. Masire says he is encouraged by the desire by all factions for the unity of Congo as one sovereign nation. "I think the unity of the DRC is one of the most encouraging factors. I have been dealing with the DRC now for close to two years," says Mr. Masire. "The one constant thing is that they [all parties] want to see the Congo as one united state, whether it is a federal state or a unitary state, it must be united."

After meeting with Mr. Masire, the Security Council issued a formal statement reiterating its strong support for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. The Council also urged all parties to the Lusaka agreement on Congo to continue implementation of its military provisions, including disarmament, demobilization and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the DRC.