The European Union has called on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the rebel M23 movement to negotiate the dismantling of the armed group after its military defeat.
"We call for a rapid political conclusion to the Kampala talks between the M23 and the government of the DRC with a view to... the definitive dismantling of this armed group," Sebastien Brabant, a spokesman for the EU's diplomatic service, said late Thursday.
"Actions against other armed groups should be carried out rapidly," he added.
The Dr Congo army, backed by the UN mission in the vast country (MONUSCO), has seized control of all of the M23 strongholds in the strife-torn North Kivu province in a week-long offensive. Late Thursday, government troops were attacking diehard rebel units holed up in the hills.
But Brabant warned against "any abuses or acts of reprisal that could be committed against civilians". The fighting displaced thousands of people in the region north of Goma, a mining hub and the capital of North Kivu, which is rich in precious minerals and farm produce.
The Movement of March 23 (M23) is a mainly ethnic Tutsi force comprised of former rebels who were taken into the ranks of the army under a 2009 peace deal, then mutinied in April 2012, accusing Kinshasa of reneging on the accord.
Peace negotiations began in the Ugandan capital Kampala last December, but were frequently suspended. The army went on the offensive five days after the talks collapsed when Kinshasa refused amnesty for about 80 M23 leaders.
DR Congo's President Joseph Kabila last Wednesday issued a fresh call for M23 rebels to demobilise voluntarily and warned that they faced being disarmed by force, but he left the way open for further talks in Kampala. AFP