U.S. envoy in talks with central African officials

A senior U.S. diplomat began talks Friday with officials from Burundi, Rwanda and Congo on what to do with rebels in the central African region who have been a source of instability in the three countries. Richard Sezibera, the leader of the Rwandan delegation to the talks, said officials will discuss how they can more effectively impose sanctions on rebels.

"This process is an affirmation of the efforts and commitment by these countries to work together in resolving issues that affect all of you that is the rebels," said Donald Yamamoto, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, during the public session of the two-day meeting. Yamamoto is on a four-nation tour that began Monday in Kenya, where he held meetings with U.S. ambassadors from the East Africa region. After Rwanda, he will visit Ethiopia and Chad.

Africa's Great Lakes region an area bordered by Congo, Rwanda and Burundi has been unstable since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which more than 500,000 people, most of them from the country's Tutsi minority, were slaughtered by a regime of extremists from its Hutu majority. After Tutsi rebels ended the Rwanda genocide, the extremist Hutus fled into neighboring eastern Congo, launching raids on Rwanda and triggering a Rwandan invasion of its much larger neighbor in 1996.

Rwanda, along with Uganda and Burundi, again invaded in 1998 to back Congolese rebels, sparking a war that drew in six African nations and killed an estimated 3.3 million people, most dying from war-induced hunger and disease. The conflict ended in June 2003, although sporadic fighting continues in parts of Congo, reports the AP.

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