The French President has acknowledged that France was among the countries that made a series of mistakes which allowed the 1994 genocide in Rwanda to unfold.
Nicolas Sarkozy was speaking on a visit to patch up relations after years of acrimony between the two nations.
It was the first trip to Rwanda by a French Head of State since the killings.
At a news conference with the Rwandan President Paul Kagame Sarkozy said: “Because of what happened here the international community, including France, is obliged to reflect on its errors.”
Sarkozy said France had shown a form of blindness towards the scale of the blood-letting that was going on, and had made serious errors of judgement. He also said the military operation was too little, too late.
Rwanda’s President Kagame said: “Rwanda and France have had a difficult past but we are here today to form a new partnership and relationship.”
The two broke off diplomatic ties in 2006 after a French judge accused Kagame of being involved in shooting down a plane carrying the then President – an assassination that triggered the genocide.
Rwanda accused France of training and arming the Hutu extremists who killed 800-thousand moderate Hutus and Tutsis, something denied by the French.