Blinken puts pressure on Rwanda over Congo violence

Friday December 02 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards his airplane at N'Djili International Airport in Kinshasa, to travel to Rwanda, on August 10, 2022.PHOTO | ANDREW HARNIK | POOL | AFP


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Rwanda “to take steps to facilitate de-escalation” in eastern DRC where Congolese forces are engaged in a battle with M23 rebels.

On Tuesday, Mr Blinken and Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign A airs Vincent Biruta held private talks on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali.

"I had an important meeting with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta today on the margins of my G20 meetings in Bali. I underscored the United States' deep concern about the continuing violence in eastern DRC, and called on Rwanda to take active steps to facilitate de-escalation,” Mr Blinken said on Twitter.

In response, Mr Biruta noted: “Thank you Secretary Blinken for the good meeting. I reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to the regional Nairobi and Luanda mechanisms to bring peace and stability to Eastern DRC and the region, and the need for all concerned parties to work towards a political solution to the crisis."

The M23 rebels captured key cities in north Kivu last month, and have clashed with Congolese forces as they advance towards the key town of Goma that borders Rwanda.

As the rebels advanced, Angolan President João Lourenço jetted to Rwanda last week where he held private talks with President Paul Kagame over the rising tensions between Rwanda and its larger neighbor DRC.


The meeting, however, ended without details remaining the two leaders did not host a press conference as is customary when heads of state visit Rwanda.

Rwanda also did not issue a statement about what the two leaders discussed. His visit is part of “regional efforts to normalize relations between Rwanda and DR Congo,” according to The New Times, a pro-government newspaper.

President Lourenço is the chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, which developed the so-called Luanda Roadmap that calls for both countries to respect each other’s territorial integrity and stop supporting rebels.

Rwanda has previously denied supporting the rebels, and instead accused the DRC of providing support to FDLR rebels.