URUGWIRO VILLAGE - The United Kingdom Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Sir. David Richards, yesterday, paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame, at his office in Village Urugwiro
The top British Army Officer discussed with President Kagame a range of issues, including, regional security, Rwanda’s Peacekeeping activities and military cooperation between the two countries.
Gen. Richards told reporters after the meeting that the UK and Rwanda share a history of cooperation since 1994.
“We also talked about the President’s long term plans for the country and the relationship between aid, security and wealth creation,” Gen. Richards said.
“I have gone away very much wise and very much confident about this country’s future,” he added.
The British officer noted that, since 1994, his country has been committed to supporting the Rwanda Defence Forces, through training and logistical support among other areas.
Sir Richards said that the RDF is doing well in terms of maintaining security at home, regionally and at the international level, particularly, commending its peace keeping efforts.
“From such a very short period, Rwanda has gone from recovery from the genocide to having 4 or 5 battalions in peacekeeping,” Sir Richards said
“This is really impressive and I wanted to come and pay my respect to my professional counterparts and see how we can take this forward,” he added.
Rwanda mainly has peace keeping missions in Sudan and Haiti.
Sir Richards described the cooperation between the UK and the Rwandan Army as “strong”, emphasising that the security of the region is of great importance to the UK.
The British officer, who last visited the country in 1999, said that he was amazed by the great progress the country has registered and how it has been able to overcome various challenges to be where it is today.
“To see how it has changed and developed from that time is quite staggering. I know there are many challenges still to confront, but if ever a nation gives one confidence that you can collectively beat them, this one does, so to me it’s a great privilege to be here,” he said.
According to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga, Sir Richards’ visit was to foster the cooperation between the two armies.
“He came to visit us because our army maintains a cordial relationship with the UK army. We work together in many areas including military training and it’s this good relationship we all want to maintain,” Kayonga said.
The CDS said that Sir. Richards visit follows that of his predecessor and it’s that past good relations that he is also looking forward to maintain. Lt. Gen Kayonga added that the RDF values the cooperation of the UK when it comes to maintaining regional security.
Sir Richards was appointed Britains’s military chief in October 2010.
Earlier in the day, Sir Richards met with the Minister of Defence, Gen. James Kabarebe.