Blinken sheds light on discussions with Kagame on DRC issues

On 11 August 2022 at 12:48

The United States (US) State Secretary, Antony Blinken has held talks with President Paul Kagame on his two-day visit to Rwanda.

Topics of discussions held earlier on Thursday 11th August 2022 between the two leaders include the security issues in eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Blinken arrived in Rwanda from DRC where he met with President Félix Tshisekedi.

The country accused Rwanda of backing M23 rebel group in its fight with Congolese Army (FARDC).

The rebel group resumed fighting following DRC’s failure to implement signed peace accords.

Speaking at a joint press conference held today, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta said: “We have also discussed insecurity in eastern DRC, the very real consequences for Rwanda and reaffirmed our support to regional efforts including the Nairobi and Luanda initiatives towards peace and stability in our region.”

“We agreed on the need to eradicate all irregular armed groups operating in eastern DRC including the FDLR and its fractions. We noted the resurgence of hate speech, public incitement and the genocide ideology in DRC, and the need to address this issue. We also reaffirmed the importance of respect of territorial integrity by all the countries in the region,” he added.

Rwanda has repeatedly refuted DRC’s allegations that it supports M23 rebel group but accused the neighbouring country of working with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a terrorist group comprised of remnant masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Rwanda also accused DRC of violating territorial integrity based on rockets shelled on its territory in the recent months by FARDC.

Speaking to the media on topics of discussions with President Kagame, Blinken revealed that he expressed concerns of US over reports accusing Rwanda of supporting M23.

“I raised our concerns including credible reports indicating that Rwanda continues to support M23 rebel group and has its own forces inside the DRC. We recognize that Rwanda has security concerns including the cooperation between the Congolese Military and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda,” he said.

“My message to both President Tshisekedi and President Kagame this week has been the same. Any support or collaboration with armed groups in eastern DRC, endangers local communities and regional stability. Every country in the region must respect territorial integrity of the others. The United States has the same message for all neighbouring countries,” added Blinken.

The US State Secretary revealed that he urged both President Kagame and Tshisekedi to continue the process of dialogues launched by regional countries and the African Union.

Blinken also stated that US supports the Nairobi process requiring DRC to engage in dialogue with armed groups.

“Both presidents agreed to engage directly with each other, they are both ready to resume the talks in context of the Nairobi process with armed groups and both welcomed the continued US engagement in support of African led mediation efforts,” he noted.

Blinken also reminisced on the issue of propagated hate speeches against Rwandophones in DRC whose rights are abused.

He reaffirmed his countries commitment to condemn such acts and revealed that he urged President Tshisekedi to do the same.

Antony Blinken reassured his country’s continued support to Rwanda and commended Rwanda’s progress for the past 25 years.

“The journey that Rwanda has taken over the past two decades is remarkable. You have risen from genocide to global destination for innovation, investment and tourism,” he said.

Rwanda, US diplomatic relations date back in 1962.

In 2021, US provided US$147 million funding to Rwanda to promote democracy, governance, health, education, economy and conservation efforts.

For the past three years, US provided US$116 million to support Rwanda’s health sector on annual basis. It also provided US$23 million for Rwanda to mitigate effects of COVID-19.

From 2021, the country has through COVAX donated 5,500,030 vaccine doses to Rwanda.

In 2021, US imports from Rwanda were estimated at US$31 million while Rwanda’s imports from US amounted to US$49.9 million.

President Paul Kagame exchanging greetings with Blinken at Urugwiro Village.
Blinken and President Kaagme have agreed that DRC issues will be solved through dialogue.