Oklahoma Senator, James Inhofe, has hailed President Paul Kagame for “incredibly” transforming Rwanda and massively contributing to regional peace through peacekeeping missions.
This, Inhofe said, was the reason the United States of America considers the President as a special ally of the American people.
“I speak on behalf of many Senators back home and I assure you that USA doesn’t have a better friend than Paul Kagame,” he said yesterday after a delegation of US Senators House Representatives met the President.
Inhofe was accompanied by his counterpart, Senator John Boozman of Arizona, alongside their spouses and five House Representatives.
Inhofe told the media that Rwanda’s commitment to development and contribution to regional peace makes it a valuable ally to the American government.
“I first came to Rwanda 17 years ago, and since then, I have come here each year. The country has progressed so much and you don’t see this in many countries – and we credit President Kagame for this transformation,” Inhofe said.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mary Baine, said the delegation was impressed with Rwanda’s role in fostering regional peace by sending its troops to peacekeeping missions, most recently being the 850 RDF soldiers taking part in the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic.
Rwanda also contributed peacekeepers to volatile regions of Sudan and South Sudan.
It deployed its first peacekeepers to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in 2004 and since then, has emerged as one of the largest contributors of troops to peacekeeping missions.
“The delegation had fruitful discussions with the President on issues concerning regional peace and also talked extensively on how to bolster economic and political ties with both countries,” Baine said.
In their three-day visit that kicked-off on Thursday last week, the senators were briefed by the Minister of Defence, James Kabarebe, on peace and security in the Great Lakes.
They also met the Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, and officials from the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss prospects on increasing trade between Rwanda and the USA.
Rwanda is one of the African countries allowed duty and quota-free access to the US market under the Africa Growth Opportunity Act initiated by former president Bill Clinton to encourage Africa export more to the US.
Rwanda also signed the US-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty in 2012 and is part of the US-EAC Trade and Investment Partnership announced by President Barack Obama in 2013 as an important component of the US strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa.