Zairean Rebel Official Predicts Government Meetings Soon

LOME, Togo -- Zaire's rebels and the government they are trying to topple will meet face-to-face soon, probably in South Africa, a rebel representative said Thursday.


"They have decided to be serious and meet us," Bizima Karaha, the rebel foreign affairs strategist, said during the second day of the summit of 15 African leaders.


"We don't trust them much because they are known for making promises they don't keep," he added.


Rebel leader Laurent Kabila has repeatedly refused to call a cease-fire until after, or in conjunction with, direct talks with President Mobutu Sese Seko, the 66-year-old dictator he is trying to oust.


Mobutu, on the other hand, has insisted on a cease-fire before talks.


The rebels and the government both sent delegations to the Organization of African Unity summit, convened to discuss the Zairean crisis. But the two sides would not negotiate directly. There was no immediate statement from government representatives at the summit.


Karaha did not give a date for the talks with the government, nor say whether they would bring together Kabila and Mobutu. He said only that they would be "in a very few days to come," probably in Capetown or Pretoria, South Africa.


In Moscow, Russian officials announced Thursday that they were evacuating their diplomats from Zaire and that a representative from the Emergency Situations Ministry had arrived in the country to organize the operation, Agence Press France reported.