Rwandan and French Presidents Meet; Try to Put Genocide Behind Them

Posted September 12th, 2011 at 5:41 pm (UTC-5)
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Rwandan President Paul Kagame was welcomed in Paris by his French counterpart as the two countries try to move beyond bitterness over Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hosted Mr. Kagame in the Elysee Palace Monday where the two had a working lunch.

Mr. Kagame said after the lunch that the two leaders discussed creating an economic partnership as a means to deepen their ties. He said the French are free to come and invest in Rwanda, while Rwandans are also happy to go to France to do business.

During Mr. Kagame's three-day trip, which began Sunday, the Rwandan president is also scheduled to meet with Rwandan expatriates and French business leaders.

This is Mr. Kagame's first trip to France since Rwanda's genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

A French judge has accused President Kagame's aides of assassinating then-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana in April 1994, the event considered the trigger for the genocide.

In 2008, Rwanda's government released a report that alleged that a number of French officials were aware of and participated in the killings.

Mr. Kagame's Tutsi rebel force toppled the Hutu extremist government responsible for the genocide.

Critics accuse him of becoming more authoritarian over the years.

France and Rwanda cut diplomatic relations in 2006 before re-establishing them in November 2009.