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Congo and M23 rebels negotiate in Uganda

KAMPALA, Uganda — Congolese officials held talks Sunday with representatives of M23, the rebel group that last week took control of the eastern Congo city of Goma, according to Ugandan officials.

The Ugandan defense minister, Crispus Kiyonga, said he is mediating discussions to help both sides reach a settlement that would end a violent rebellion that has involved Uganda and Rwanda, which both face charges of backing the rebels.

M23's president, Jean-Marie Runiga, is leading the rebels in the talks, according to Rene Abandi, M23's head of external relations.

Abandi, who is based in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, said M23 representatives met with President Joseph Kabila of the Congo in a tense two-hour meeting that was also attended by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.


''He tried to accuse us and we also tried to accuse him,'' Abandi said of the meeting with Kabila on Saturday. ''It was a meeting to have a common understanding of the principle of negotiation. [Kabila] said he's ready to negotiate directly with us.''

But some Congolese officials in the capital, Kinshasa, have said there will be no talks with the rebels unless they leave Goma. A regional summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Kampala — attended by both Kabila and Museveni — on Saturday called on the rebels to leave Goma and urged Kabila to listen to ''legitimate grievances'' of M23.

Associated Press