President Paul Kagame yesterday met his Ugandan counterpart, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, at the State House in Entebbe, Uganda where the two leaders resolved to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
The President was accompanied onto his one-day official visit to Uganda by, among others, the Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
In a meeting that took several hours, the two leaders discussed a number of issues of mutual interest including; railway connections, power supply lines, air transport operations, and security between the two countries and the region.
“I can say with great satisfaction that we were able to agree on a number of important things for the benefit of our countries and region. Better communication, working together more deeply and sharing facts regularly will allow us to take better decisions,” President Kagame said after the meeting.
Kagame added that he also used the meeting to brief President Museveni on the outcomes of the recently concluded African Union summit in Kigali that saw African leaders sign the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.
“We congratulated and commended Uganda and President Museveni for their participation and their significant contribution in making the summit a success,” Kagame said.
Uganda, which was represented by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa at the meeting in Kigali last week, was among the countries that endorsed all the three instruments to ease intra-Africa trade; the CFTA, the Kigali Declaration, and the protocol on free movement of persons.
President Museveni described the meeting as fruitful, and underscoring the immense benefits for Uganda having very close ties with Rwanda.
“Thank you for squeezing in time to come here so that we deal with these very important points. We agreed on all points and how to proceed forward and I wish success to the people of Rwanda and the RPF party,” he said.
While responding to questions from journalists on harassment of Rwandans in Uganda, Museveni said that there is no fundamental conflict between Rwanda and Uganda, adding that there has only been lack of coordination and communication between officials of both countries.
“There is no fundamental problem between Rwanda and Uganda. A number of incidents that are being commented about in the media, many would be properly addressed if only there was better communication,” said President Museveni.
On the topic of private sector engagement, Kagame said that there is no reason why the private sector of both countries should remain inactive – especially on reviving trade between the two countries, and called for more cooperation in increasing trade cooperation.
The Rwanda-Uganda Business Forum, which is supposed to an annual gathering, where business and political leaders of both countries meet to discuss issues of mutual concern was last held in Kigali in 2014.
“I think we have ourselves to blame for not pursuing something like that that is useful. I don’t see why there should be any problem at all. The private sector people themselves need to really re-activate whatever was working and we will provide them with the political support required for that to be expedited,” he said.
In a communiqué, both leaders directed their ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs to convene the next Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) within three months to follow up on areas of cooperation.
At the end of their meeting, Kagame extended an invitation to Museveni for a state visit to Rwanda, which was accepted, according to the communique.