PARIS-President Paul Kagame and his host President Nicolas Sarkozy of France yesterday held talks which focussed on how the two countries can strengthen bilateral ties.
President Kagame was hosted by President Sarkozy to a working luncheon at The Élysée Palace, during which the Heads of State discussed ways to continue cooperating on economic development.
According to a statement released by the office of the French President, the two Heads of State reviewed diplomatic and bilateral relations between the two countries with the French government committing to increase economic support to Rwanda.
“The President of the Republic received today (yesterday) Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, for a work luncheon on the occasion of the official visit that the latter is currently carrying out in France,”
“This visit follows the one which the President of the Republic carried out in Kigali on February 25, 2010 shortly after the re-establishment of the diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda,” the statement reads.
Through the French Development Agency (AFD), the French Government will increase its engagements and support to Rwanda by €23.7m on top of the current €42.2m France gives Rwanda.
“It is a new stage in the process of standardisation of relations between the two countries, founded on dialogue and mutual respect,” the statement further reads.
In the energy sector, France is already involved in Rwanda’s national plan to increase access to electricity.
President Kagame expressed appreciation to the French for showing interest in contributing to Rwanda’s geothermal projects and the exploitation of methane gas in Lake Kivu.
Focusing on economic cooperation, the AFD will increase its support to the country’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) through the local banks.
French companies have committed to support SME investments in Rwanda and the government has welcomed the initiative.
The two countries also agreed to strengthen cultural ties as they form an important dimension to bilateral cooperation.
Among other things, the two countries will hold student exchange programs on a regular basis while France will continue her support for multilingualism in Rwanda.
The French will start the construction of the new multi-storeyed Franco-Rwanda Cultural Centre by 2012.
President Sarkozy reaffirmed his commitment to continue working with Rwanda on, among other things, legal concerns that exist between France and Rwanda.
During his visit, President Sarkozy said France would not be a haven for wanted individuals, mainly genocide suspects.
Kagame and Sarkozy also held discussions on regional and international issues, in particular, the consolidation of peace and safety in the Great Lakes Region.
The Heads of State also discussed regional economic integration through the East African Community and the big role the African Union has to play in the rebuilding of a new Libya.