Rwanda’s government says French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will begin a three day official visit Thursday after arriving late last night in the capital, Kigali.

Jean Bosco Gasasira, editor of the independent Umuvugizi newspaper said President Paul Kagame is scheduled to meet foreign minister Kouchner in the capital, as both countries continue efforts to strengthen diplomatic ties.

“Today the French foreign affairs minister is going to visit the Genocide Memorial site of Nyanza … He will also visit IBUKA the Genocide Survivor’s Association. After that, he is going to meet the minister of foreign affairs, whereby they are going to discuss Rwanda-France normalization of the relationship, and later on in the day, he will have to meet President Paul Kagame,” he said.   

Kigali recently restored relations with Paris after Presidents Kagame and Nicholas Sarkozy agreed to end years of a diplomatic spat. 

Rwanda severed ties with France in 2006 after a French judge accused President Kagame and several government officials of involvement in the assassination of former President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Gasasira said Rwandans seem pleased about Kouchner’s visit.   

“Rwandans are really glad (because) almost 90 percent of Rwandans are French speakers…They are happy to restore the diplomatic ties, which can really help both Rwandans and the French despite (previous) misunderstandings of the governments. But at the end of the day, it is the interest of the citizens who can benefit from this,” Gasasira said.

France Foreign Minister Kouchner twice visited Rwanda last year – a gesture geared towards restoring diplomatic ties between the countries.