Bush Holds Talks with Rwandan Leader at White House
President Bush met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the White House to discuss efforts to bring peace to Central Africa's troubled Great Lakes region.
They also discussed a host of other regional issues from peacekeeping in southern Sudan and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to helping bring elections to Burundi.
On all, the Rwandan leader says Mr. Bush vowed to continue his engagement in African affairs. "We requested the president to use his powers to help Africa in different ways, in socioeconomic development, in assuring there is peace and security not only in our region but also in the whole continent. And the president was very supportive of that," he said.
The two presidents also discussed the possible return to Rwanda of ethnic Hutu involved in the country's 1994 genocide of ethnic minority Tutsi.
Many of those responsible for that violence fled to what was then Zaire and continued to destabilize the provinces of North and South Kivu.
Now, some of those former fighters say they are renouncing violence, condemning genocide, and are ready to return home.
Bush administration officials this week welcomed that declaration, urging rebels to demonstrate their commitment to peace by turning over all weapons to U.N. monitors in Congo and proceed without delay to organize their return to Rwanda.
President Kagame, who led a Tutsi rebellion to stop the genocide, says those former adversaries will be welcomed home. "They made a wrong choice of staying in the bush in Congo and earlier on made the wrong choice of associating themselves with the ideology of genocide. We did talk about their offer to disarm and return home, and we will facilitate that," he said.
Ending insecurity in eastern Congo is the biggest reason given by Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda for involving themselves in two civil wars in Congo in the last ten years.