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Brussels, 11 December 2008

Commissioner Louis Michel to assist in North Kivu mediation

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, will meet the leader of the 'Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple' (CNDP) Laurent Nkunda later today at the request of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Special Envoy to the UN Secretary General for the Great lakes region.

Commissioner Michel will also meet with the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Joseph Kabila on Friday. Commissioner Michel aims to use these meetings to encourage all parties to focus on the principle root causes of the current crisis in North Kivu: the presence of the 'Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda' (FDLR) and illegal exploitation of natural resources.

Special Envoy Obasanjo underlined yesterday that there has been progress in establishing the format and ground rules for substantive discussions but that hurdles remain. Most notably, Mr Obasanjo has highlighted the need to speed-up progress and maintain the focus of discussions within the mandate given to the facilitators by the Great Lakes Region, The African Union (AU) and the United Nations, at the Nairobi Summit on 7th November 2008.

Earlier today Commissioner Michel held substantive discussions in Kigali with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame. Commissioner Michel praised the constructive attitude of Rwanda in favour of a peaceful solution in the region. Commissioner Michel welcomed the recent positive contacts held between Congolese and Rwandese Ministers of Foreign affairs towards the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations and regional economic cooperation.

Commissioner Michel's mission to the region will also allow him to assess first hand the serious humanitarian situation. Later today, he will visit the Kibati camp near Goma to meet displaced persons and see for himself the difficult conditions in which they are living.

With this second trip in the region Commissioner Michel aims to contribute to the current efforts made in favour of a lasting and peaceful solution for the benefit of all the populations of the region.

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