LUBUMBASHI, DR Congo — Congolese and Zambian experts went into talks on Tuesday in the DR Congo's southeastern mineral hub of Lubumbashi over a deadly border conflict that erupted in March.
Fighting broke out after Zambian soldiers occupied two villages in the DRC's Tanganyika province, leaving one soldier dead on each side.
"I remain convinced that the two delegations will not fail to put our peoples' interests first," said Jacques Kyabula, governor of the neighbouring Haut-Katanga province hosting the five days of talks.
A Haut-Katanga official said that the Zambian troops had not left the country but moved to within three kilometres (two miles) of the border.
"Our soldiers who wanted to redeploy in the area were taken hostage for more than three hours by Zambian troops," he alleged.
Last Thursday the Congolese government announced that the Zambian troops had withdrawn from the villages after mediation by the regional Southern African Development Community.
The next day Zambian Defence Minister Davies Chama said he would travel to the DRC capital Kinshasa this week to "handle these issues".
A treaty signed in 1989 by DR Congo and Zambia resolved a dispute inherited from the colonial era concerning the delimitation of land and lake borders between Lake Mweru and Lake Tanganyika, a distance of about 200 kilometres.
Border clashes broke out nonetheless between the Zambian and Congolese armies in 1996, in 2006 and in September 2016. The disputed area is easily accessible from the Zambian side, but on the Congolese side access is made difficult by a swamp. — AFP