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Kagame and Blinken Meet on Sensitive Issues

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said he had raised “serious concerns” related to human rights as well as issues about regional tensions with the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo during a meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the capital Kigali. Speaking at a press conference with his Rwandan counterpart on Thursday, Blinken said he raised “serious concerns” about human rights during his earlier meeting with Kagame, including the case of Rwandan citizen and US permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina. “We believe people in every country should be able to express their views without fear of intimidation, imprisonment, violence or any other forms of repression,” Blinken said at a press conference with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta. Rusesabagina, who inspired the film ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ was convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali in September 2021. The US State Department previously said he was wrongfully detained, according to a statement released in July. Anaïse Kanimba, one of Rusesabagina’s daughters, told CNN following Blinken’s meetings with Rwandan government officials, “We trust that if the US relationship with Rwanda is strong enough to be deserving of financial and trusted cooperation, then it is strong enough to push for the release of our father on humanitarian grounds.”