May 15, 1997 in Nation/World

Mobutu Will Stand Aside, Says Albright

Associated Press

While saying she was disappointed that peace talks on Zaire broke down Wednesday, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asserted that President Mobutu Sese Seko is looking for a way to yield power to a transitional government.

Albright said it was essential that Mobutu and rebel leader Laurent Kabila get together “and we have some sort of peaceful transition.”

With Kabila’s forces near the capital - and some advance troops already infiltrating - Albright said Mobutu “is looking for ways to have a transition.”

She said she could not “get into the details.”

“It is a very tough situation,” Albright said as the State epartment again urged the approximately 300 Americans in the Central African country to leave.

Spokesman Nicholas Burns said those who remained “are going to be in harm’s way” and it was “common sense” that they get out.

The millions of residents of Kinshasa hunkered down as peace talks designed to avert a bloody battle for control of the capital broke down.

Albright, interviewed by the PBS-TV “News Hour” program, said she hoped the talks could be held on Thursday.

“We are very disappointed the two did not meet,” she said. “It is very important for Zaire to have a process toward an elected government.” And, she said, “we have to do something about the tragic situation of the refugees.”

South Africa has tried to shepherd peace talks, with the United States playing a major supporting role.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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