Uganda and Rwanda seek to revive bilateral ties.
Rwanda and Uganda have formally begun diplomatic discussions, a crucial step toward resuming ties between the two nations, which had been at odds for almost three years prior to the start of this year.
On Thursday, a group of Ugandan officials headed by Foreign Affairs Minister Odongo Jeje Abubakhar met with Rwandan colleagues in Kigali.
The delegation had arrived in Rwanda the day before, led by Foreign PS Bagiire Vincent Waiswa and acting Director of Regional and International Political Affairs Arthur Kafeero.
Robert Rusoke, the newly appointed Ugandan High Commissioner to Rwanda, was also in negotiations with the Rwandan delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta.
The nations stated in a joint statement published after the meeting on Thursday that the diplomatic and political conversations are a continuation of the heads of state’s resolve to expand and enhance the two countries’ warm ties.
“The ministers discussed regional issues such as security, commerce, investment, and major regional initiatives.”
“They decided to examine and revitalize bilateral collaboration in several areas of mutual interest by convening the next Joint Permanent Commission between Rwanda and Uganda,” according to the statement.
Rwanda and Uganda have been striving to improve ties since early this year, with formal visits to each other’s nations including President Paul Kagame’s visit to Kampala in April and Yoweri Museveni’s visit to Kigali during the Commonwealth conference in June.
Ismael Buchanan, a political analyst based in Kigali and a professor in International Relations at the University of Rwanda, believes that restoring bilateral commerce should be a top priority.
“This year has seen great growth in Rwanda-Uganda ties.” The regular visits of officials are critical since there are still problems to be solved, particularly in commerce. There is still optimism, but we haven’t seen as many Ugandan items on the Rwandan market as we used to,” he added.
Relations between the two neighbors worsened in 2018 when Kigali accused Kampala of harboring hostile organizations and torturing innocent Rwandans on its territory. As a result of the increased tensions, Rwanda closed its shared border with Uganda.
Since then, the two nations have conducted multiple negotiations to normalize ties, and the border reopened in February.
Uganda’s exports to Rwanda fell to $2 million in 2020, during the height of hostilities between the two countries, from more than $200 million before the border closure.
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