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UN Chief Urges Rwanda Not to Withdraw Sudan Peacekeepers

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (file photo)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seeking to ease tensions with Rwanda's government over a leaked U.N. report alleging that Rwandan troops might have committed acts of genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 1990s.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a detour to Rwanda during a European trip this week. He said he wanted to go to Kigali to discuss the government's concerns about the leaked U.N. report.

"We discussed the matter in great detail," said Mr. Bam. "I listened very carefully to their concerns. I fully understand and appreciate the depth of their feelings on this matter. I encouraged President [Paul] Kagame and the Rwandan government, and indeed all concerned countries, to submit their comments on the report by the end of this month, as requested by High Commissioner Navi Pillay."

Mr. Ban said those comments would be released with the final version of the report on October 1.

The draft report was leaked late last month. It said Rwandan Tutsi troops might have killed thousands of Hutu refugees in Congo during a cross-border Central African war in the mid-1990s, and that those crimes might have constituted genocide.

Rwandan officials are calling the report "outrageous and damaging" and are threatening to withdraw the country's more than 3,000 peacekeepers from Darfur and South Sudan, if the accusations are published in the final document.

Although Mr. Ban did not explicitly say he had received assurances from President Paul Kagame about Rwanda's participation in those missions, he said they agreed that it is "extremely important for Rwanda to continue its role in peacekeeping operations."

"Rwanda's contribution is all the more important because we are going to see two referenda in Sudan in January next year. We need to do more to protect the civilian population – not least women and children," U.N. Secretary-General added.

The Secretary-General said he would continue discussions with President Kagame later this month in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly annual debate.