Congo's president calls on country to mobilize

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo's president called on the country's citizens to mobilize against aggression after the capture and retreat of strategic territories by rebels.

President Joseph Kabila spoke Saturday to hundreds of senators and deputies in his yearly state of the nation address. He said that they will pursue efforts diplomatically, politically and militarily until Congo finds lasting peace.

He said that only a strong army will safeguard the territorial integrity of the country. The president also blamed Rwanda for the aggression. The country is said to back the M23 rebels, a charge they deny.

The armed M23 group is beginning negotiations with the Congolese government, following the rebels' withdrawal from Goma, the capital of North Kivu province in eastern Congo.

This week the group demanded that Congo's president step down and hand over power to a transitional government.