French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Rwanda on Feb. 26 to cement renewed ties with his counterpart Paul Kagame following years of acrimony and recriminations between the two nations over the 1994 genocide. Analysts say France needs warmer relations with Rwanda to remain relevant in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, hence the first visit by a French head of state since the slaughter. Rwanda severed relations with France in 2006 after a Paris judge accused Kagame and nine aides of shooting down former President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane in April 1994 – the spark for the massacre of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The central African country vigorously rejected the indictments. It accused the French government of having trained and armed extremist Hutu militias responsible for the violence, as well as continuing to harbor top genocide suspects. (Reuters)

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