New York - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is seeking ways to bring together the leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda to end a brutal rebel conflict, a US official said on Wednesday.
Clinton met on Monday with longtime Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his DR Congo counterpart Joseph Kabila in the same talks, as part of efforts to try to curb the violence and stem a growing humanitarian crisis in eastern DR Congo.
"The secretary emphasised the need for honest and sustained dialogue between both countries in pursuit of a political resolution," the US official said.
Nearly half a million civilians have been displaced by the current conflict and there is growing pressure for progress to be made at a UN summit on the crisis to be held here on Thursday.
Clinton stressed any solution "must include bringing the M23 leadership to justice and both countries committing to respect the sovereignty and territory integrity of the other".
The top US diplomat also "committed to look into options that could build confidence between the two parties in the next weeks".
Experts of the UN Security Council's sanctions committee allege Rwanda is supporting M23 rebels, who launched an uprising in eastern DR Congo in April.
Rwanda, however, has denied the charge and in turn accuses Kinshasa of backing a group of Hutu rebels who also operate in eastern DR Congo.
The M23 is led by Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, and was formed by former fighters in an ethnic Tutsi rebel group that was integrated into the Congolese military in a 2009 peace deal.
Last week, US lawmakers heard a powerful plea to stop a brutal wave of rapes and killings by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid claims six million people have died in years of war.
"Congress, in your hands you have the salvation of all Congolese people," Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda, bishop of the United Methodist Church of North Katanga, told a House of Representatives subcommittee.
"We came to seek your assistance because we know who you are. You have power... you have all the means to stop the war in Congo."