USA about the Eastern Congo Crisis, today: Interview J Kerry spokesperson

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QUESTION: Can I follow up on yesterday’s question about the Thursday UN meeting on the Great Lakes and —

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely.

QUESTION: — what you might be able to tell us about the violence in Congo that has driven refugees, to Goma specifically, between the Congolese forces and the M23?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: What’s your understanding of that situation?

MS. PSAKI: I can give you an update on that. Thanks for your patience. Let’s see here. I just want to make sure I give you the most up-to-date here, Scott.

Well, let me say first that we, of course, condemn M23’s latest round of attacks on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s military. M23’s renewed fighting seriously undermines regional and international efforts to peacefully resolve the situation in eastern D.R.C. The Secretary, as you mentioned, is going to be heading to New York on Thursday to chair a meeting of the National Security Council focused on the Congo and focused on the situation in the Great Lakes. I expect I’ll have more to say on that tomorrow in terms of the agenda and what he’s hoping to accomplish while he’s there.

QUESTION: Has the Obama Administration approached its allies in Kigali about their support for the M23?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any update for you on that in terms of contacts.

QUESTION: Well, it’s the allegation of Human Rights Watch that the Rwandan military is directly supporting the M23 both in training —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — and in the recruitment of demobilized Rwandan soldiers. Is that a view that is shared by the United States?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we believe there is a credible body of evidence that supports the key findings of the Human Rights Watch report, including support by senior Rwandan officials to the M23 and of Rwandan military personnel in the D.R.C. We call upon Rwanda to immediately end any support to the M23, withdraw military personnel from eastern D.R.C., and follow through on its commitments under the framework.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding that President Kagame is aware of that, or is this just being done by some senior Rwandan officials?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more specifics on it for you.

QUESTION: I just want —

QUESTION: Call on the senior Rwandan officials to stop – et cetera, et cetera, et cetera – I’m not trying to – I just don’t remember exactly what it was —

MS. PSAKI: To end its —

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: — to end any support to the M23.

QUESTION: Right. Or what?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s what we’re calling for, Matt.

QUESTION: Just out of the goodness of their hearts they should stop doing this, because they’re nice guys?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not at all what I’m suggesting. That’s what we feel needs to happen.

QUESTION: Well, what’s the – I understand. And then how are you prepared to make the case that – how are you prepared to punish them or use leverage to – what kind of leverage are you using to make your case here?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any leverage to outline for you today.

QUESTION: In other words, none. It’s kind of just an empty appeal, an empty call.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it was a very powerful case made in the Human Rights Watch report.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: I’m sure it was – raised the eyebrows of others as well. So we’re continuing to call on them to take action.

QUESTION: Do you know if this – if the view that you just expressed is shared over at the White House?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, it is.

QUESTION: It is shared at the White House.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Then why has this Administration not done anything to pressure President Kagame into ending the support for M23?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I don’t have any context to outline for you. This is a position that’s shared broadly in the Administration. Obviously, the Human Rights Watch report is something that we – I just stated we agree with and we share the concerns with it. But beyond that, I don’t have much more for you.

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