Prime minister 'regrets' slide in ties with Rwanda

1st December 2006, Comments 0 comments

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 1, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Friday he "deeply regretted" the deterioration in diplomatic relations with Rwanda centered on the central African nation's 1994 genocide.

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 1, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Friday he "deeply regretted" the deterioration in diplomatic relations with Rwanda centered on the central African nation's 1994 genocide.

"Personally, and this is also the position of France, I deeply regret the situation in which we find ourselves today," de Villepin said during a speech at Johannesburg's Witwatersrand university.

"I am also saddened to witness the reaction which we have see in Rwanda," the prime minister added.

Rwandan and French relations plummeted after France's top anti-terrorism judge said Rwandan President Paul Kagame should face trial for the assassination of his predecessor Juvenal Habyarimana.

The judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, then issued arrest warrants for nine of Kagame's close aides.

Bruguière is investigating the downing of Habyarimana's plane on April 6, 1994 and accuses Kagame, then a rebel leader, of orchestrating it. Several French crew members were killed in the incident, prompting the French inquiry.

Kagame, who has always denied any role in the incident, has called the judge's allegations "rubbish."

Within days of Bruguière's announcement, 25,000 Rwandans rallied to denounce him and the alleged French complicity in the genocide ensuing the downing of the plane in which some 800,000 people — mainly minority Tutsis — were killed.

Earlier this month, Rwanda abruptly cut off ties with France.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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