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Southern African leaders to hold Congo crisis talks Friday

South African President Jacob Zuma will attend a summit in Dar es Salaam this weekend that will focus on the crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity Wednesday.

“The issue of the DRC will dominate the agenda” of the meeting, which will include representatives from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, a source in South Africa’s international relations department said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo was rocked in recent weeks by a rebel insurgency that seized the strategically vital eastern city of Goma, raising fears among southern African capitals of a broader regional conflict.

The M23 rebels have since pulled out of Goma, sparking a flurry of diplomatic efforts to prevent the crisis from flaring up again.

Negotiations between the warring parties are expected to begin in the next few days in Uganda.

It was not clear if representatives of the Congolese government, which is a member of SADC, or rebel forces in the east of the country will attend the Dar es Salaam talks.

“The official announcement will come from the presidency,” the diplomat said, adding that the meeting is slated to include Tanzania, South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Botswana and Malawi.

“The meeting will include the Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika on politics and defence that is currently chaired by Tanzania, with South Africa and Angola as the other members, and the troika supporting the SADC president,” the source said.

“This body includes Mozambique, Botswana and Malawi,” the source said.

“The meeting on December 7 and 8 will also hear a report from Tanzania on the SADC mediation on Madagascar and a report from South Africa on our mediation in Zimbabwe.”