The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken held separate discussions with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi regarding the volatile situation at their shared border and the deteriorating humanitarian crisis. In recent months, fighting has escalated in North Kivu between the Congolese army and the M23, a rebellion group reportedly backed by Rwanda, according to various UN reports.
The U.S. Department of State confirmed in a statement that Antony Blinken spoke with both leaders over the phone, advocating for a diplomatic resolution to the tensions between the two countries.
Tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali are longstanding, but they have intensified with the resurgence of the M23, a rebellion group allegedly supported by Rwanda, according to several UN reports.
The clashes between the M23 and the Congolese army have intensified in recent months in the north of the city of Goma, in eastern DRC.
A year ago, the M23 even came within a few kilometers of the capital of North Kivu, leading to the displacement of thousands of Congolese.
Today, Washington is urging both countries to act. The U.S. Secretary of State is calling on each party to take measures to de-escalate the situation, including the withdrawal of troops from the border.
For over a year, the United States has been raising its voice to demand that Rwanda, its former ally, cease supporting this rebellion.
Several UN reports have established Rwanda’s support for the M23, including material support and the involvement of personnel. This hardened stance is reflected in repeated calls from the U.S. administration and strong condemnations from the U.S. Congress. More recently, the United States announced that it was reviewing its military cooperation with Rwanda.
Kigali has been placed on a blacklist of countries accused of recruiting or using child soldiers.
As a result, Washington has restricted its military aid as well as arms and equipment sales to Rwanda.