Mobutu At Sea

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KINSHASA, Zaire: "It's a retirement party," says TIME's Marguerite Michaels of the meeting U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson has brokered between Laurent Kabila and Mobutu Sese Seko. The U.N.-sponsored peace talks between Zaire's ailing president and the rebel leader who is close to displacing him will be held Friday on a South African ship cruising in the waters off Zaire. "This meeting is exactly on Kabila's terms, right down to its location on a ship in international waters,” says Michaels. “Mobutu had insisted on Kinshasa. State Department officials believe Mobutu is looking for a face-saving exit. This meeting is it." Richardson must now convince Kabila to cooperate in the peaceful evacuation of refugees in eastern Zaire. He assured Richardson during their three hour meeting Wednesday that anyone found responsible for killing refugees would be punished. "The U.S. thinks Kabila needs us," says Michaels. "But some of those refugees are his enemies, who fought with the retreating government troops. It’s not clear what he will do."