LISBON - President Paul Kagame on Saturday met with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy on the sidelines of the just concluded EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.
According to a release from the Office of the President, the two leaders held a ‘frank and cordial meeting’.
‘The two Presidents agreed that important lessons had to be drawn from the past and that Rwanda and France now had an opportunity to look to the future. It was decided that a process towards normalising ties would begin and a team would be formed to review outstanding issues,’ the statement said.
After the meeting, Sarkozy told a news conference that France has begun to normalise its relations with Rwanda.
Kigali severed its ties with France in November last year after a politically inspired French magistrate indicted nine top Rwandan officials in connection with the plane crash that killed former president Juvenal Habyarimana. It also accuses Paris of playing part in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, which claimed at least one million people.
“We want to turn the page, we want to look to the future,” Sarkozy said, describing the meeting as “the start of a normalisation” of ties.
“We have decided to establish a working group which should bring about the resumption of our diplomatic relations,” he added.
In September, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Charles Murigande met with his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, in New York, the first high-profile meeting between leaders from both countries.
Meanwhile, in his address to the EU-Africa Summit on Saturday, President Kagame spoke of the need for appropriate policy choices, policy coherence and mutual accountability in Africa/Europe relations, particularly with regards to development and trade.
He called for a re-worked, mutually beneficial Europe-Africa partnership “….one not based on aid, but trade and investment, and not on charity but on enlightened self-interest”.
Kagame also held separate bilateral meetings with several European and African leaders including the Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, President Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands.