Annan pushes peace agenda with regional leaders

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in Paris to attend the Africa-France summit, met on Friday Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to discuss ways of advancing the peace process in the DRC, UN News reported.

It said the leaders had agreed that the proliferation of armed groups in the eastern part of the DRC was destabilising the situation and undermining the peace process, with Annan suggesting that the mandate of the UN Mission in the DRC might have to be strengthened.

The leaders also agreed that stability could best be achieved in the DRC with the establishment of a broad-based government to be formed through the inter-Congolese dialogue capable of extending its control over all parts of the country.

Annan also attended the Africa-France summit's final working session and held a series of bilateral meetings, beginning with President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi, with whom he discussed ways of expediting the peace process in that country.

With President Idriss Deby of Chad, Annan discussed relations with neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR). Thousands of refugees have poured into southern Chad in recent weeks to escape fighting between CAR government troops and rebel forces.