Head of U.S. Intelligence Heads Diplomatic Effort to Ease Tensions Between DRC and Rwanda

Head of U.S. Intelligence Heads Diplomatic Effort to Ease Tensions Between DRC and Rwanda

In a diplomatic initiative of significant importance, Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence in the United States, undertook a high-stakes diplomatic mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda from November 19 to 20, as officially confirmed by the White House on November 21. Accompanying her were Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and Judd Devermont, the Special Assistant to President Biden and National Security Council Senior Director for African Affairs. The delegation, led by Haines, aimed to address and de-escalate tensions in the troubled eastern region of the DRC.

During her visit, Haines engaged in crucial discussions with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi. Both leaders expressed commitments to addressing and mitigating tensions in eastern DRC, drawing upon previous arrangements supported by neighboring countries through the Luanda and Nairobi processes. While the final outcomes of the delegation’s efforts remain undisclosed, the Biden administration affirmed its support for and commitment to monitoring the steps taken by DRC and Rwanda towards de-escalation.

The visit occurred amidst escalating tensions, particularly underscored in June when evidence of direct interventions by the Rwanda Defence Force on DRC territory was obtained by a UN Group of Experts. Allegedly aimed at reinforcing M23 combatants and conducting military operations against local armed groups, these interventions were denied by the Rwandan government. Despite expressions of concern by SADC leaders in early November, no confirmed troop deployment was officially announced, while the fragile ceasefire with the M23 added complexity to the evolving situation in the region. The U.S. aims to support diplomatic and intelligence engagements between the two countries with the overarching goal of enhancing security and prosperity for both nations’ populations.


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