Mandela does U-turn on Congo military aid

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The Independent Online
IN A STARTLING shift in its diplomatic policy, the South African government has said it now supports the intervention of Angolan, Namibian and Zimbabwean troops on the side of Congo's President Laurent Kabila.

President Nelson Mandela said yesterday the shift did not conflict with regional attempts to broker a ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said that in the face of aggression, President Kabila had the right to call for military help..

Mr Mandela was speaking after a meeting of Southern African Development Community members, attended by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. One South African official said military intervention had helped to create a certain balance between the warring parties in Congo and could help lead towards a ceasefire.

This view was echoed by Mr Mandela at a news conference held with Mr Annan, and the Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity, Salim Ahmed Salim. All three men attended a meeting of heads of state from the Southern African Development Community, called to discuss the conflict in Congo.

South African officials say that a diplomatic initiative can work hand- in-hand with military intervention.