REUTERSKIGALI, Sept 8 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Rwanda on Wednesday not to end its peacekeeping operations in Sudan as he sought to defuse rising tensions over a leaked U.N report.
Ban said the report, which in its draft form said Rwandan soldiers may have committed genocide in Democratic Republic Congo during the 1990s, would be released after U.N. members and interested parties had had an opportunity to respond.
"I commend Rwanda's support of the whole U.N. agenda and peacekeeping in the Sudan. I have asked President (Paul) Kagame to continue with that contribution around the world and in particular when we are going to see a referendum in Sudan in January next year," Ban told reporters at Kigali's airport.
Ban arrived in Rwanda on Tuesday and left on Wednesday after meeting Kagame and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
Rwanda says the allegations are "malicious" and "ridiculous" and Mushikiwabo reiterated on Wednesday that the central African country would take "strong action" if the report were not amended.
Ban said the United Nations was interested in establishing the facts relating to what happened in neighbouring Congo during the 1990s.
The U.N. report covers more than 600 serious crimes committed by various forces during the period 1993-2003 in which tens of thousands of people were killed, U.N. officials say.
The period saw the fall of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and a five-year conflict involving six foreign armies, including Rwanda's Tutsi-led force.
"Rwanda will never accept that the Rwandan Defence Forces be accused of crimes they are not guilty of and that is the bottom line," Mushikiwabo told reporters.
(Reporting by Kezio-Musoke David; editing by Richard Lough)