KINSHASA, Congo – The European Union is considering sending peacekeepers to east Congo, where tensions over the rebel capture of a border city are straining a postwar power-sharing government, Belgium's foreign minister said Monday.
"We are in agreement on the principle" of deployment, Foreign Minister Louis Michel (search) told a news conference in the capital, Kinshasa. "But we have to be sure of the modalities."
Michel was referring to a decision by Belgium, Congo's colonial-era ruler. The EU governing body said there had been no formal agreement yet by member states.
Such a deployment would mark only the second such EU emergency military mission. The first, also in Congo, sent an 1,850-strong French-led force to the eastern city of Bunia last year to help calm lethal factional fighting there.
Michel is in central Africa to try to calm regional tensions over Wednesday's capture of the trading center of Bukavu (search), on the Rwanda border.
The town was taken by two renegades commanders from the patched-together military of Congo's power-sharing government. The two fought in a Rwanda-allied rebel group during Congo's war.
Congo accuses Rwanda of backing the insurgents, which Rwanda denies.
Michel, the first major foreign envoy to try to ease the crisis, said his "opinion is not yet formed" on responsibility in the conflict.
He stressed only, "It is absolutely necessary that the rebels submit themselves to the authority of the transitional government."
The Belgian was to meet later Monday with Uganda's president and Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba (search) in the Ugandan city of Kampala. Michel said he would "probably" meet Rwandan President Paul Kagame (search) in Kampala as well.
Michel talked with Congo President Joseph Kabila (search) on arrival late Sunday.
Congo's war started in 1998 when Rwanda and Uganda backed Congolese rebels in a bid to overthrow Congo's government, accusing it of harboring the militias responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia entered the war on Congo's side. An estimated 3.3 million people died before peace deals brought the exit of foreign armies and the power-share government.