The talks are aimed at providing opportunity for authorities to deal with the recurring complaints of their respective citizens.
PIC: Ambassador James Kinobe (C) welcomes governor Jefferson Abdallah for talks on Thursday as Philemon Mateke looks on. (Credit: Benedict Okwethwengu)
The Ugandan and Congolese delegations commenced a bilateral meeting in West Nile district of Nebbi over the security situation on the Uganda-DRC border.
The three-day meeting, funded by UNDP through the foreign affairs ministry and targetting districts that border Ituri and North Kivu Province, is being held at Leosim Hotel.
It is aimed at providing an opportunity for authorities at local and provincial level to deal with the recurring complaints of their respective citizens and a chart way forward in order to promote good relations and set a network to address common border challenges.
The talks being attended by a team from the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUCSCO) are specifically centring on strenghtening relations of Uganda and DR Congo through established mechanisms in order to allow peace and security in the nations.
Both countries have traded counter-accusations ranging from harassment to border encroachment in the lake and on land by each party.
James Kinobe, the Ugandan Ambassador to Uganda's mission, said Uganda and DRC share a long common border line that splits common ethnicities.
According Kinobe, it was imperative that the two nations maintain friendly and cordial relations for the benefit of their people and prosperity of the region.
"What we are doing is important fo the two nations. Colonialists divided us into Anglo- and Francofone, but I urge you to forget about those. We are African."
He said one of the the issues they expect to discuss is that of fish holiday on Lake Albert which has been at the center of conflict between Ugandan and Congolese authorities.
Kinobe said they intend to agree a mechanism for a joint monitoring and patrol of fishing and other activities on the common waters of Lake Albert and George.
Earlier, Bessie Ajilong, the Nebbi resident district commissioner, had raised concern over fishing holiday being implemented in DRC on Lake Albert.
She argued that during such time, Congolese fishermen usually invade the lake on the Ugandan side to do indiscriminate fishing expedition.
Uganda's delegation is being led by the state minister for regional cooperation, Philemon Mateke while the Congo delegation is led by the Governor of Ituri province, Jefferson Abdallah.
Mateke, who opened the meeting as chief guest, said the meeting was part of the resolution in the Ngurdoto Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation signed by President Museveni and his counterpart Joseph Kabila.
The agreement was signed in 2007 in Tanzania and one of the key resolutions in it is about quarterly meetings for the leaders of the two neighboring countries to discuss peace and security for the stability of the region.
Mateke appealed to the administration of DRC province to accept the Northern Corridor project, sayng that they stand a good chance of benefitting from it.
On his part, Jefferson thanked Museveni and Kabila for initiating the proces of the Ngurdoto Agreement, which has paved way for such dialogue.
Nabil Fernendes, the representative of the UNDP, said the UN body is ready to support the two neighbouring countries to address the border challenges.