KIGALI - US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Africa, Vicki Huddleston, yesterday visited the Ministry of Defence (MINADEF) as she concluded a country tour that began Saturday.
In a joint press briefing shortly after the closed-door meeting, Defence Minister Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi, told reporters that his discussions with Huddleston and her delegation of four revolved around regional security.
“She came to discuss with us the security situation in the region,” said Gen. Gatsinzi.
The Minister also noted that the visitors wished to know how the Rwandan army works, not only when it defends the country, but also during times of peace, to which activities such as the recently concluded army week were highlighted.
Huddleston praised the Rwandan army’s peacekeeping initiatives.
“We have good cooperation and coordination between our two militaries, and these have been wonderful conversations because we have been extremely impressed with your peacekeeping efforts in Darfur in Sudan,” Huddleston said.
The FDLR insurgency in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was also discussed, and Huddleston commended previous joint efforts by the Rwandan and DRC armies, against the rebels.
“We are very happy to see that this resulted in many non combatants as well as combatants being returned to Rwanda, and we hope that this will result in a peaceful region within the Congo and that Rwanda can continue to be at peace and that you can continue your excellent development.”
Shortly before the discussions, Huddleston toured and laid a wreath at the Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi.
She described the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as a ‘regrettable tragedy.’
“ Not only do you have to remember, but again you have to rise above – and indeed from what I have seen in Rwanda, you are beginning to rise above this.”
US envoy to Rwanda, Stuart Symington, said the memorial shows that Genocide is not a problem of any one country, but for all countries, and pointed at the need for resolute global efforts to bring the masterminds of the Genocide to book.
“It’s terribly important that we continue to work together to see that justice is done, not just for Rwanda, but for the sake of the world.”