(Bloomberg) -- The US is concerned about “credible reports” that Rwanda is backing the M23 rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and had sent its own forces into its neighbor’s territory, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
Such actions endanger regional security and stability, Blinken said at a joint press briefing Thursday with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta in Kigali, the East African nation’s capital. President Joe Biden’s top envoy earlier held talks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The M23’s leadership largely comprises members of Congo’s Tutsi community, who say they are defending the interests of Rwandan-language speakers in the country and fighting Hutu rebel groups accused of bearing responsibility for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. More than 800,000 people, most of them Tutsi, were killed during the massacre.
A United Nations group of experts on Congo released a report earlier this month that said the Rwanda Defence Force had been equipping and fighting alongside M23 since November. The soldiers attacked rebel groups based in Congo who oppose the Rwandan government and fought against the Congolese army to expand the rebel’s territory, said the group, which based its findings on eyewitness testimony and drone footage.
UN Group of Experts Say Rwanda Is Backing Rebels Fighting Congo
Rwanda has accused Congo of working closely with one of the Hutu-led groups, known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR. It also accused Congo of attacking and shelling its territory, killing its citizens and destroying property, and said it had a legitimate and sovereign right to defend itself.
The US recognized “that Rwanda has security concerns of its own, including reports of cooperation between the Congolese military and the FDLR,” Blinken said. Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi agreed to resume direct talks to try and defuse the tensions, he said.
Blinken is on the final leg of a three-nation African trip, that has included stops in South Africa and Congo.
(Updates with Blinken comment, background throughout)
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