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Blinken leaves Rwanda, ending 3-nation African tour

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at N'Djili International Airport in Kinshasa, Congo, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.   -  
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Andrew Harnik/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


US secretary of State Antony Blinken boarded Thursday a plane to leave Kigali. It was his last stop on a three-nation tour of Africa where he articulated Washington's new strategy for engaging with sub-Saharan African nations as "equal partners".

During his visit, Blinken took part in several meetings with members of the Rwandan government, discussing issues such as democracy, human rights concerns and the on-going tensions between Rwanda and the DRC.

"There are very credible reports of support for armed groups by all sides, including the FDLR, by Congolese forces and M23, by Rwandans, US's top diplomat said. Our position is clear, whoever it's by, whoever it's to, that support needs to cease for any armed group."

An unpublished independent investigation for the UN, seen by AFP last week, said Rwandan troops had attacked soldiers inside the DRC and aided the M23, which has captured swathes of territory in eastern DRC in recent months.

"Whatever Government of Rwanda could do in DRC or in our region, will be about protecting our people and protecting the territorial integrity of our country and its sovereignty, Rwandan Foreign Affairs minister Vincent Biruta insisted. It is not about supporting M23."

Blinken's trip to Africa's Great Lakes region, came at difficult time with the Democratic Republic of Congo accusing Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels and Kigali accusing Kinshasa of collaborating with the FDLR rebels.

Despite a meeting between Kagame and Tshisekedi in Angola last month ties between the neighbors remain strained.

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