Rwanda says French FM to visit Kigali

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will visit Rwanda soon in what would mark a key step towards a resumption of diplomatic relations, a senior Rwandan official said Tuesday.

 Rwanda says French FM to visit Kigali
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will visit Rwanda soon in what would mark a key step towards a resumption of diplomatic relations, a senior Rwandan official said Tuesday.

"The French foreign minister is due to visit Rwanda, following a phone conversation he had with Rwandan President Paul Kagame," Rwanda's secretary of state in charge of regional cooperation Rosemary Museminali said.

She said she had no more details on the date of Kouchner's visit to the central African country.

The French foreign ministry said it was not aware of any plans for a visit, which would herald a thaw in the countries' ties.

Diplomats in Paris said Kouchner was considering making a trip to Rwanda, although no firm plans had yet been made.

Consultations were taking place between the French presidency and foreign minister -- allegedly favouring a trip -- and the defence ministry which takes a cooler view, they said.

Kigali broke off relations with France in November 2006 when a French judge issued arrest warrants against close aides to Kagame over the assassination of then president Juvenal Habyarimana, which sparked the 1994 genocide.

"First and foremost, we expect the upcoming talks with the French diplomat to focus on lifting international arrest warrants issued against nine Rwandans... by French anti-terror judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere," she said.

"Rwanda is ready to maintain good relations with France but prior to that we demand that all the problems that caused our ties to be severed be dealt with," Museminali added.

Earlier this month, France detained two Rwandans who were wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda for their alleged roles in the massacres which left at least 800,000 people dead in just a few months.

Kigali welcomed the arrests as a sign that France was willing to cooperate more actively with the tribunal since President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected and a new government was sworn in.

Rwanda has repeatedly accused France of supporting the Hutu extremists who perpetrated the genocide and of dragging its feet to cooperate with the investigations that followed the massacres.

France has always denied the accusations.

In Addis Ababa last week, Kouchner said he hoped a normalisation of ties with Rwanda could take place soon.

AFP
Last Mod: 01 Ağustos 2007, 11:28
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