Bill Clinton leads US delegation to Rwanda to mark 30 years since genocide

Former President Clinton will lead a U.S. delegation to Rwanda this weekend to mark 30 years since a genocide ravaged the country, the White House announced Thursday.

An ethnic conflict between Hutu and Tutsi people in the country escalated to genocide in early 1994, eventually resulting in the deaths of between 500,000 and 800,000 Tutsi Rwandans over the course of about four months.

The U.S. government did little to address the conflict, working to evacuate Americans from the country and pledging $500 million for humanitarian aid. Since-revealed White House documents from the time showed the reluctance was caused by the failed U.S. mission in Somalia in 1993, which resulted in the infamous “Black Hawk Down” scandal and the deaths of 18 U.S. soldiers.

Clinton, who was president at the time, showed regret decades later over his government’s inaction.

“I don’t think we could have ended the violence, but I think we could have cut it down,” he told The New York Times in 2012. “And I regret it.”

“If we’d gone in sooner, I believe we could have saved at least a third of the lives that were lost. … It had an enduring impact on me,” he later told CNBC in 2014.

Classified documents released in 2004 revealed that the Clinton administration was aware of Hutu plans for a genocide of Tutsi people before the ethnic conflict began.

Clinton will be joined in the delegation by Ambassador to Rwanda Eric Kneedler, as well as senior State Department official Mary Catherine Phee, White House aide Casey Redmon and U.S. Agency for International Development official Monde Muyangwa.

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