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Kerry to Chair UN Meeting on Central Africa

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement to the press regarding his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on subjects including Syria at the U.S. Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, July 2, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council later this month aimed at strengthening efforts to achieve peace in Central Africa’s Great Lakes region.

Acting U.S. United Nations Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo told reporters Tuesday that the high-level Security Council session will take place on July 25. The U.S. currently holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation council.

“The session will build on several events that have brought renewed energy to this effort," she said. "Secretary-General Ban has accepted our invitation to brief, as has World Bank President [Jim] Kim. [U.N.]Special Envoy Mary Robinson and high-level representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the African Union have also been invited to brief the Council. Also a high-level representative of Rwanda has been invited to speak as a council member.”

In early June, the U.N. and World Bank chiefs visited the Great Lakes to talk about development in the region. The World Bank president also announced $1 billion to boost infrastructure and important sectors such as agriculture and health.

In February, the heads of 11 regional countries signed a framework agreement to end the on-going conflict in the eastern Congo which has impacted the entire region. Among the signers were Rwanda and Uganda, who have both been accused of supporting rebels in eastern Congo, a charge their governments deny.

Ambassador DiCarlo said she hopes the special Security Council session will raise the visibility of the Great Lakes issue.

“We hope that this debate will help sustain the international attention on the Great Lakes region and encourage continued positive momentum following the signing of a regional framework agreement,” she said.

The July 25 Security Council session will take place as the United Nations ramps up its efforts in the eastern Congo to neutralize rebel groups, including the M23, with a new, robust Intervention Brigade. The force will be made up of soldiers from Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi and will work with the existing U.N. peacekeeping mission.

The U.N. is also looking to put several drones into the skies over the eastern Congo by September. The unarmed aerial vehicles will be able to gather information on rebel movements and help deter attacks on civilian areas.