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U.S. Department of State 
97/01/23 Statement: Zaire 
Office of the Spokesman 



Press Statement by Nicholas Burns/Spokesman 
January 23, 1997


 
                                 ZAIRE 
 
 

The United States is profoundly worried by signs that the conflict in 
Zaire may soon escalate.  Increased combat in Eastern Zaire would not 
only threaten the civilian population in the area -- including the 
internally displaced and remaining Rwandan refugees -- but also risk a 
direct confrontation among national armies in the region.  We renew our 
call for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue among belligerents to 
achieve a peaceful political settlement of the crisis.  We also call for 
withdrawal of any foreign forces -- including mercenaries -- currently 
in Zaire.    
 
From the start of this crisis, we have urged neighboring governments not 
to join the conflict, and have pressed them to use their influence to 
restrain the rebel forces operating in the Kivus.  The United States 
strongly reaffirms its recognition of the territorial integrity of Zaire 
and the inviolability of the existing borders of all states in the 
region.  This stance is consistent with declarations of African regional 
leaders at the November 5 Nairobi summit and in UN resolution 1078 of 
November 10. 
 
To bring a lasting end to this crisis, a political settlement is needed 
not only among Zaire and neighboring countries, but also between the 
authorities in Kinshasa and disaffected groups in the east.  We and 
other members of the international community will continue to work 
closely in support of African peacemaking initiatives, which have 
included the regional summit meetings convened by Kenyan President Moi 
and a meeting of the UN's Standing Advisory Committee on Security 
Questions in Central Africa hosted by Congolese President Lissouba.  As 
a further step to promote a peaceful settlement, the imminent 
appointment of a UN Special Representative to the Great Lakes region is 
a welcome development.  
 
While an end to the fighting in Eastern Zaire is an urgent objective, 
Zairians must also continue to focus on the preeminent goal of their 
democratic transition.  Establishment of credible governing institutions 
is essential to provide for stability and a return to economic 
development in Zaire.  Moreover, popular participation in selecting 
political leaders and greater decentralization of authority to the 
regions hold the keys to addressing the demands of disaffected groups in 
Eastern Zaire and elsewhere.   

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