President Kagame today received President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in his first visit to Rwanda. Following official welcome ceremonies at the Presidency in Kigali, which included a guard of honour mounted by the Rwanda Defence Forces, the two Presidents held private talks as well as a bilateral meeting with officials from both countries.
Speaking at the joint press conference, President Kagame said that despite a trouble past, Rwanda and France had embarked on a new partnership and thanked President Sarkozy for reaching out to Rwanda since he took over office “I thank you Mr President for your openness and appreciate the frank dialogue we have had in the last two years”.
President Kagame said that he had discussed with President Sarkozy future cooperation in several sectors including trade and investment, education, health and cultural exchange, and looked forward to “a friendship based on mutual respect and close collaboration in pursuing our shared interests”.
President Sarkozy who had earlier in the day visited the Kigali Memorial Centre, said that the genocide of 1994 had left an indelible mark, was unacceptable, and obliges the international community including France to reflect on the failure to prevent and stop the genocide. He acknowledged the debate and questions surrounding his visit among the citizens of both countries but said it was the duty of leaders to look beyond this into the future and bring about reconciliation.
President Sarkozy noted that the errors of judgement and politics made by France had a devastating effect on Rwanda, and expressed his admiration for what Rwandans had managed to achieve in reconstructing the country. He said that if Rwandans have been able to achieve reconciliation among themselves, then the same was possible between Rwanda and France.