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Congo's government won't negotiate unless rebels leave Goma

The Congolese President met with the Rwandan-backed M23 rebels for the first time since they seized the city of Goma, about a week ago. The rebels have shown no sign of leaving the city, and plan to march on others.

By Jonny Hogg and Richard LoughReuters / November 25, 2012

Congolese M23 rebel soldiers are seen on the road to Rushuru near Buhumba some 16 miles north of Goma, Thursday. Rebel spokesman Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama vowed Thursday that the fighters would press forward toward seizing the strategic eastern town of Bukavu, which would mark the biggest gain in rebel territory in nearly a decade if it were to fall.

Jerome Delay/AP

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Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo said on Sunday it would not negotiate with M23 rebels in the east until they pulled out of the city of Goma, but a rebel spokesman said Kinshasa was in no position to set conditions on peace talks.

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Congolese President Joseph Kabila met with M23 for the first time on Saturday after an urgent summit in Uganda where regional leaders gave M23 two days to leave Goma, which the rebels seized six days ago after U.N.-backed government troops melted away.

Eight months into a rebellion that U.N. experts say is backed by neighbouring Rwanda, the rebels have so far shown no sign of quitting the lakeside city of one million people.

The rebels say they plan to march on other cities in the east, and then strike out across the country to the capital Kinshasa, across 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of dense jungle with few roads, a daunting feat achieved 15 years ago by Kabila's father.

Amani Kabasha, a spokesman for M23's political arm, welcomed the meeting with Kabila but questioned the government's resolve to end a crisis that risks engulfing the region.

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