KIGALI - For the first time in 21 years, senior government officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda met under the revived Joint Permanent Commission to discuss bilateral issues in yet a another move that signals improved relations between the two countries.
The two countries last met under the similar platform in 1988.
Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo led a delegation of eight officials to Kinshasa where they discussed with their Congolese counterparts issues on security and economic collaboration.
“This was the first time we were meeting in the last 21 years under the joint permanent commission,” Mushikiwabo told The New Times.
“This meeting was a follow up on what the two Heads of State agreed upon in their last meeting that a joint permanent commission be revived and meets before close of this year,” the Minister said.
“It was meeting held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere and definitely signaled the beginning of a new era in DRC-Rwanda relations.”
Mushikiwabo said the two delegations discussed broad issues in the areas of economic cooperation and security.
Under security, the Congolese government reiterated its commitment to work jointly with Rwanda in stamping out FDLR from their territory.
“The Congolese are very keen on ending this issue of FDLR. There’s a determination on their part to work together with us in dealing with the mess caused by FDLR,” she told The New Times.
On the economic front, the two delegations discussed joint ventures in different areas including tapping methane gas and extension of fibre optic cable to Eastern DRC once it lands in Rubavu.
A delegation of Congolese officials supported by the World Bank will also visit Rwanda in the near future to study what strategies the country has adopted in the ‘Doing Business’ reforms.
Minister Mushikiwabo said that the two governments also agreed upon organizing a cultural event before end of next year that will showcase different cultural aspects by ordinary citizens of the two countries.
This meeting of the Joint Permanent Commission follows the historical meeting in August that brought together Presidents Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila that marked a significant turn -around in relations between the two nations.