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Rwanda, Burundi in talks to mend relations

This morning at Nemba One Stop Border Post in Bugesera District, high level delegations from Rwanda and Burundi are engaged in bilateral talks, the first known meeting between government officials in a while.

At the border post, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Vincent Biruta welcomed his counterpart, Burundi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation Ambassador Albert Shingiro.

 

Biruta was accompanied by Shakilla umutoni, Director General of Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fidele Munyeshyaka, Rwanda’s ambassador to Burundi, and Maj Gen Nzabamwita, the Secretary-General of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

 

Assistant Commissioner of Police Lynder Nkuranga, Rwanda's new head of External Intelligence and Bugesera District mayor Richard Mutabazi were also part of Rwanda’s delegation.

 

Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister was accompanied by his assistant Bernard Ntahiraja, Sylvestre Nyandwi, Justice Minister of Burundi, Ferdinard Bashikaho, DG at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Dorothee Ndayiziga, Burundi’s ambassador to Rwanda, and Alfred Innocent from the President’s Office.

The two ministers delivered opening speeches before they went to a closed door meeting.

“We are happy to receive you here in Rwanda and this idea of having a deliberation not just as neighbors but as friends,” Biruta told the delegations.

The Minister described the visit as "a big step to restore the relations between Rwanda and Burundi.”

“I want to tell you that we are ready to have fruitful discussions, and open to resolve any existing conflicts between us,” he noted.

The head of Burundian diplomacy, on the other hand, highlighted in a less than one minute-speech his country’s delegation was ready to have discussions toward normalizing the relations between the two countries.

“We came here as the Burundian Government because we want to normalise our relations, the relations which deteriorated in 2015,” Shingiro said, before the two headed to the closed door meeting.

The meeting follows another meeting between the two country’s military intelligence chiefs, which took place in August in the Eastern Province during which they discussed security issues that have strained the two neighbors.

jbizimungu@newtimesrwanda.com

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