Kigali (Rwanda), Feb. 26 (ANI): French President Nicolas Sarkozy has accepted that France played a role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide that killed nearly 800,000 people.
It is alleged that France had played an active role in training and arming the Hutu militias and troops who led massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.
While Sarkozy, on a visit to Rwanda - first by a French leader in 25 years, did not formally apologise, he suggested that the entire international community - and France in particular - should accept that its response had been culpably weak.
"What happened here is a defeat for humanity. What happened here left an indelible stain. What happened here obliges the international community - including France - to reflect on the errors which prevented us from foreseeing, or stopping, this appalling crime," The Independent quoted Sarkozy, as saying.
France has always claimed that it could not have foreseen the genocide and that the intervention of its troops helped to save many Hutu and Tutsi lives.
Sarkozy's dramatic visit to Kigali and joint press conference with Rwandan President Paul Kagame are the latest efforts by France to repair relations, which were severed three years back amid mutual recriminations and allegations.
Before his press conference, Sarkozy was taken on a tour of Kigali's genocide museum.
On two occasions, the official guide made references to alleged French complicity in the massacres, including a photograph of a French military vehicle driving past armed Hutu civilians.
President Sarkozy ignored the remarks.
He later placed a wreath on a memorial to the dead and said that "in the name of the people of France" he "bowed" to "victims of the genocide of the Tutsis".
"Errors of appreciation, political errors, were committed here which had consequences which were absolutely tragic," Sarkozy said, in what is being seen as France's admission of its role in he genocide for the first time. (ANI)