Brussels - The European Union is ready to resume aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on condition that weekend peace talks in Kinshasa produce "concrete results", European Commission President Romano Prodi said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after an hour-long meeting with DRC President Joseph Kabila, Prodi said he was "satisfied" with recent progress in implementing the 1999 Lusaka Agreements.
Rwandan and Ugandan troops backing rebels at war since August 1998 with the Kinshasa regime on Thursday pursued their withdrawal from the front lines in line with peace proposals.
Kinshasa and its allies from Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia were to follow suit, according to UN officials in the DRC capital, where Kabila is due to meet the chief mediator named by African leaders, Ketumile Masire of Botswana.
Prodi said that, pending concrete results from talks in Kinshasa, the EU was prepared to release about 120-million euros (R879,96-million) to fund health and food projects.
He said the EU would also immediately give the DRC 28-million euro for a justice rehabilitation programme aimed at restoring the rule of law in the DRC.
The EU cut off aid to the country, then called Zaire, in 1992 after bloody repression of student demonstrations in Lubumbashi in the country's southeast by the regime of the late president Marshal Mobutu.
When Mobutu was overthrown in 1997 by LaureiajdAoila, Joseph Kabila's father, the Kinshasa government had hoped for a resumption of the aid.
But relations between the DRC and the EU quickly cooled when Kinshasa refused EU demands for democratisation, respect for human rights and a UN probe into alleged massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees by Kabila forces and those of his then allies from Rwanda and Uganda.
Joseph Kabila became president in January after his father was assassinated by one of his bodyguards.
The DRC peace process got a major boost when Joseph Kabila, after assuming the presidency, went on a tour of the West advocating a revival of the Lusaka (Zambia) ceasefire accord signed by all warring parties.
He said after speaking with Prodi that he would meet in Kinshasa in coming days with Masire, the facilitator of inter-Congolese dialogue named by the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), who was to arrive in the DRC capital on the weekend.