November 29, 2008 / 5:27 PM / 10 years ago

Congo rebel chief Nkunda says "war" if no govt talks

(Adds quotes, background)

JOMBA, Congo, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Congolese Tutsi rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda threatened war on Saturday unless Congo’s government entered into direct talks with him.

Nkunda, whose forces have routed government troops and gained swathes of territory in North Kivu province in the east of the country, has repeatedly demanded negotiations with Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

"If there is no negotiation, let us say then there is war," Nkunda told journalists after meeting U.N. special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo.

"I think the good way is negotiation. I know they (the Congolese government army) have no capacity to fight so they have only one choice, negotiation."

Kinshasa insists that Nkunda return to a peace pact he signed in January, but has since rejected as one-sided.

"Today he (Obasanjo) said that Kinshasa accepted the principle (of talks) but they didn’t agree on where we can meet," Nkunda said.

Obasanjo, who met Kabila on Friday, said after his meeting with Nkunda that "we have advanced the course of peace". (Reporting by Hereward Holland; Writing by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by Charles Dick)

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