18 March 2003

Secretary-General Concerned by Rapidly Deteriorating Situation in Ituri Region of Democratic Republic of Congo

NEW YORK, 17 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Secretary-General is very concerned by the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ituri, in particular the dangerous rise in the tensions between Rwanda and Uganda. Everything must be done to ensure that further military confrontations do not erupt in this region, as they would undermine the recent hard-won gains in the peace process.

The Secretary-General calls on all concerned to immediately establish the Ituri Pacification Commission and to work within that framework towards a peaceful solution to the situation in Ituri. It is essential that all parties, including neighbouring States, cooperate in this process.

The Secretary-General again calls on all foreign forces to withdraw from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in accordance with their previous commitments, in order to pave the way for a lasting peace in the region. He is committed to working closely with all parties to ensure their concerns are met through peaceful means.

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