US President Barack Obama called on Rwandan President Paul Kagame to end all support for rebels in the conflict-wracked Democratic Republic of Congo, the White House said.
The White House issued the strongly worded statement about the leaders’ call after Washington imposed sanctions on two top leaders of the M23 rebel group, saying they had used child soldiers and singled out children as targets.
In his telephone conversation with Kagame, Obama “underscored that any support to the rebel group M23 is inconsistent with Rwanda’s desire for stability and peace,” the White House said.
Obama stressed to Kagame “the importance of permanently ending all support to armed groups in the DRC, abiding by the recent commitments he made… and reaching a transparent and credible political agreement that includes an end to impunity for M23 commanders and others” who committed rights abuses, it said.
The DR Congo government has been battling the M23, former army soldiers who UN experts say are backed by Rwanda, since they launched a mutiny in April.
Several of the group’s leaders have been hit by UN sanctions over alleged atrocities.
Obama called for a political agreement in DR Congo that “addresses the underlying regional security, economic and governance issues while upholding the DRC’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The White House said he had delivered the same message to DRC President Joseph Kabila.
During their talks, Obama and Kagame also discussed the DRC’s “longstanding governance problems,” according to the White House.
“President Obama welcomed President Kagame’s commitment to moving forward in finding a peaceful solution for eastern DRC,” it added.
Also on Tuesday, the United States launched a fresh appeal for the arrest and prosecution of two rebel leaders from Rwanda and DR Congo wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
Sylvestre Mudacumura, the head of Rwanda’s main Hutu rebel group and DR Congo’s Bosco Ntaganda, an ex-general who spurred the ongoing mutiny in the east, are both the subject of outstanding ICC warrants.