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UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – African leaders called on the Democratic Republic of Congo government and opposition rebels to quickly make an accord to end renewed conflict in the east of the country.
While condemning attacks by M23 rebels, the heads of state and government at a meeting at the UN headquarters called for a "swift conclusion" to talks being held in Kampala which are currently deadlocked.
The talks started on September 10 in the Ugandan capital but there have still not been any direct meetings between the government and M23 representatives.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon called the meeting to review an accord signed by 11 African nations in February. The 11 promised not to interfere in each other's affairs as part of efforts to end decades of strife in DR Congo, much caused by meddling neighbors.
The review has taken on greater importance as M23 launched a new offensive against government forces in August, though they have since been forced back from the major eastern city of Goma by the army and UN peacekeepers.
"We strongly condemned the resumption of hostilities by the M23," said a statement released after the meeting of 10 of the signatory countries, who included the presidents of DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
UN experts have accused Rwanda and to a lesser extent Uganda of aiding the M23 in their 18-month old rebellion.
The statement condemned attacks against the army, UN peacekeepers and humanitarian workers in the resource-rich region. They also condemned shelling into Rwanda, which the Kigali government has blamed on DR Congo forces but which the UN said came from M23 controlled zones.
The statement said the African leaders had agreed "benchmarks" to monitor progress keeping the political accord. But officials would not say what the benchmarks are.
UN reports on DR Congo say neighbors have not kept their vow against interference and this was one of the areas stressed by UN envoy Mary Robinson after the meeting.
The governments of DR Congo, Angola, Burundi, Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia attended the meeting.
Kenya and Sudan have asked to join the mechanism which will meet again in January on the sidelines of an African Union summit, said the statement.