The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Visits

The Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, yesterday, jetted into the country for a two-day visit to discus cooperation between Rwanda and the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Lilianne Ploumen was scheduled to hold talks with Rwandan government officials, members of the private sector, and some of the key international organisations operating in the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation said in a statement that the diplomat's visit aims to strengthen the mutual relations and cooperation between Rwanda and the Netherlands.

"It's a clear indication that our relations are good and that Holland values us as partners," the Permanent Secretary Mary Baine said after receiving Ploumen at the airport.

"I think it's a very positive gesture on her part and on the part of her country because it means that Holland wants to take informed decisions when it is taking any decisions concerning the region."

Baine explained that Ploumen would hold discussions with several people in government, the civil society and from members of the diplomatic corps.

She is also scheduled to meet with President Paul Kagame and other government officials including the Minister of Finance, John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimba, and the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama.

She will sign an aviation treaty with the Minister of Infrastructure, Albert Nsengiyumva and visit some of the country's big companies like the BPR (Banque Populaire du Rwanda), Bralirwa, as well as poverty-reduction projects like the European Union-supported labour-intensive works, and the maintenance of a road in Kamonyi District.

She will also pay tribute to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and lay a wreath at the memorial.

Ploumen will also meet with representatives at country offices of the European Union, the United States government, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund to discuss the effects of aid suspension on Rwanda.

The Netherlands is one of the countries that had suspended their aid to Rwanda, along with, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States over allegations made in a report by UN's Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo last year that Rwanda supports M23 rebels. Rwanda has strongly denied the allegations.

Rwanda is one of the fifteen countries worldwide with which the Netherlands has a longstanding and broad development cooperation programme. The Kingdom has focused on supporting Rwanda's justice sector, food security, and water resource management.

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