Annan urges peaceful solutions

DURBAN,  (Xinhua) Sept3 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, speaking to heads of state at the 12th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit yesterday put his weight behind South African President Nelson Mandela's call for a peaceful resolution of fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Annan, a Ghanaian, was speaking before an audience which included Congolese President Laurent Kabila and the leaders of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, who have sent troops and weapons to help Kabila fight a month-long Tutsi-backed rebellion. He said armed conflict did not offer the means for a solution.

"My brother African leaders, I appeal to you once again. We Africans must summon the will to resolve our problems by political, not military, means," he said to sustained applause from almost 60 leaders attending the summit in Durban.

In a speech ranging from the desire for debt relief for poorer nations to the complex impact of globalization, Annan placed strong emphasis on the need to combat terrorism.

In the past five weeks, bomb blasts have killed more than 250 people in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, prompting Annan to tell the conference: "Some have suggested a world conference on terrorism. This should at least be seriously considered.

"The international community must come together to find ways of combating this truly universal menace," he said.

Kabila was a surprise delegate at the summit, having said just two days ago he would not be coming because the conflict in Congo was more pressing.

His presence, along with that of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Namibian President Sam Nujoma, provided Annan and Mandela with a better opportunity to broker peace in central Africa.

Annan had told reporters on Tuesday he would know more about the prospects for peace the following day. When asked about Kabila's seeming reluctance to negotiate, he added:

"I'm not sure this is going to be the situation for ever. We need to find a way of getting everybody to talk."

Making progress in finding a peace in Congo and finding ways for less-developed countries to tackle the problems created by globalization have been the core elements of discussions at NAM meetings so far.

Annan reinforced that agenda in his speech, putting financial chaos on a par with conflict in terms of the social and political upheaval it can cause.

"Conflict and terrorism are far from being the only global threats we face," he said.