DRC crisis: European Union looks the other way

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The Bill to send 3,000 more troops to DR Congo has been overlooked by most European foreign ministers, reports claim. The EU states have so far been reluctant to commit forces to the Congo to back a 17,000-strong UN force, Monuc, already on the ground.

In-line with the first direct talks between representatives of the Congolese government and CNDP rebels in Kenya, a parallel meeting was also held in Brussels, concerning a UN appeal for more troops, but was shown little enthusiasm by some European states.

Belgian Foreign Minister, Karel De Gucht said before the discussions: ‘It will take four to six months before the additional troops for Monuc will arrive.’

On Friday, General Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, called on the EU to send troops to DR Congo to manage the crisis until the arrival of UN reinforcements.

But at Monday’s meeting in Brussels, European Union foreign ministers failed to decide on the issue and rather asked the European Commission to prepare a response to the UN secretary general.

According to the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, ministers would discuss Mr Ban’s appeal.

So far, Belgium has been the most outspoken European country in appealing for help for DR Congo, its former colony. But Germany and Britain are against sending an EU force while Spain and Italy are reportedly hesitant to answer a Belgian request to lead a mission.

On the other hand, the proposed meeting in Kenya between the DR Congo government representatives and Laurent Nkunda forces did not exactly materialize as neither DR Congo President Joseph Kabila nor Gen Nkunda is present at the meeting.

Reports emanating from Kenya say expectations for the talks are low and wider negotiations involving many of the other armed groups in the region will be needed.

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