KINSHASA, Congo: With U.S. envoy Bill Richardson preparing a visit that could be worth millions in aid dollars to his economically ravaged country, Laurent Kabila is doing his best to improve his image. After a host of denials that Kabila's forces had anything to do with the alleged massacres of Rwandan refugees, Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo said Wednesday that perhaps, just perhaps, some innocents had been caught in the crossfire. "This doesn't even address what Kabila is being accused of," says TIME's Marguerite Michaels. "Richardson is not going to buy this." Still, she says, Kabila is still enjoying a bit of an international honeymoon period. "This visit is just a public acknowledgment of Kabila's new government, which so far the U.S. is perfectly satisfied with." The pleasantries will probably include a quiet offer of U.S. and international aid, but with a few strings attached. "This is a friendly reminder of U.S. priorities," Michaels says. "A free market, an inclusive government, and human rights. In that order."