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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mobutu Invited to Peace Talks

KINSHASA, Zaire -- The rebel leader whose army controls half of Zaire has vowed to take the capital within three weeks, whether President Mobutu Sese Seko wants to talk with him or not.


But South African President Nelson Mandela on Thursday indicated that a peace accord may be reached before the rebels reach the capital, issuing an invitation to Mobutu to meet with Kabila in South Africa.


"I am confident that a peaceful solution will be achieved,'' Mandela said.


"[Kabila] wants a solution that will receive the support of President Mobutu and he has also made it clear that he has no intention of doing anything which will humiliate President Mobutu,'' Mandela said. "It is for that reason that he is very keen that he should meet President Mobutu.''


Richard Wenu, a spokesman in South Africa for the rebel alliance, said Thursday that an agreement was reached on the site but not the time for such a meeting. He would not disclose the venue.


Mobutu said Saturday that he would be willing to meet with Kabila if the rebel chief asked politely. But Kabila said Wednesday: "It is not important for me. Who is he?''


Kabila flew Wednesday from the newly captured city of Lubumbashi to Cape Town, South Africa, to meet with Mandela, who apparently has persuaded him to meet his foe.


Mandela said he had spoken several times with Mobutu since Saturday and that their phone conversations have been "very cooperative.''


Mobutu's information minister, Kin-Kiey Mulumba, told reporters in Kinshasa on Wednesday that a meeting between Mobutu and the rebel leader could take place in the next few days.


Kabila returned Thursday morning to Lubumbashi, Zaire's second-largest city, and canceled a rally to mark his rebels' capture of the city a week ago. No reason was given for the cancellation.


His Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire now controls more than half the country. Kabila has made it a practice to stage victory rallies in the cities the rebels have captured in their seven-month drive from eastern Zaire to unseat Mobutu.