Rwanda’s Kagame visiting as Israel looks to boost Africa ties
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Rwanda’s Kagame visiting as Israel looks to boost Africa ties

2-day trip to focus on investment, but also Israel's bid to counter anti-Israel bias at UN and the shared experience overcoming genocide

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame (center) shakes hands with President Reuven Rivlin (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on July 10, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame (center) shakes hands with President Reuven Rivlin (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on July 10, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

Rawandan President Paul Kagame began a two-day visit to Israel on Monday for talks focused on boosting cooperation for the future, but also touching on the two nations’ common experience in the past overcoming the horrors of genocide.

“We are two nations who understand the horror of genocide, and we must show what humanity can achieve with cooperation and understanding,” President Reuven Rivlin told Kagame at the presidential residence in Jerusalem.

“We know that Rwanda is now going to be member of the UN Human Rights Council. This is a body which is always against Israel, so we welcome all those who are prepared to speak for us,” Rivlin said

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was also present, praised Rawanda for its stance on Israel.

“We see how you stand up for Israel in international forums, and you already expressed a simple principle that we did which is that bilateral relationships should be reflected in multilateral forums. There is a dissonance between us and a few other nations still,” Netanyahu said.

Rivlin and Netanyahu were referring to a slew of anti-Israel resolutions in recent months, the newest of which, on Friday, saw UNESCO declaring Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs a part of endangered Palestinian heritage.

The solar field in Rwanda, pictured here on February 17, 2017 has 28,360 panels which provide 7.8 megawatts of electricity at peak production, about 5 percent of Rwanda‘s energy budget. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
The solar field in Rwanda, pictured here on February 17, 2017 has 28,360 panels which provide 7.8 megawatts of electricity at peak production, about 5 percent of Rwanda‘s energy budget. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Kagame, who visited Israel in 2008, noted a blossoming relationship between Israel and Rwanda in the areas of technology, agriculture, energy and security.

“Rwanda is open for business and we look forward to welcoming private sector delegations from Israel even more frequently in the future,” he said.

Rivlin congratulated Kagame on the speech he made in March as the first African leader to address the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

There, he hailed the Jewish state as an inspiration for his own country’s rebirth after genocide.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, DC, on March 26, 2017. (AFP Photo/Andrew Biraj)
Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, DC, on March 26, 2017. (AFP Photo/Andrew Biraj)

Kagame, of the Tutsi tribe, was commander of the rebel force that put an end to the 1994 slaughter of Rwandan Tutsis by Hutu extremists and has led the country since 2000, as it recovers from the conflict and becomes a regional economic success story.

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