Maputo — The United States is "ready and willing" to work with the Mozambican government in fighting piracy in the Mozambique Channel.
Speaking in an interview with the Maputo daily "Noticias", after a three day visit to Mozambique, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Reuben Brigety, said that piracy "is a multinational challenge and thus requires a multinational response".
He praised Mozambique's tripartite agreement with Tanzania and South Africa to combat piracy, and said the US government "looks forward to more details of this agreement so that we may also know in what way the American government can help".
The tripartite arrangement authorises joint naval and air anti-piracy patrols in Mozambique Channel.
As for the controversial US Africa Command (AFRICOM), Brigety defended its creation, saying it sought to give the same attention to Africa as the US gives to other regions.
The US administration saw AFRICOM as "a crucial instrument with which we can work throughout the African continent on questions such as security and protection".
Brigety is the person in the US government responsible for security matters in sub-Saharan Africa. He considered AFRICOM an important security instrument "and Africa is very important partner that can help us in this area".
Though he has not held direct discussions with SADC (Southern African Development Community) as a whole, Brigety said he has been in dialogues with individual SADC countries. He is keen to have "more open discussions with SADC countries to know how we can help establish peace and stability, and see in what way the SADC countries can promote peace and security elsewhere in Africa".
Asked about the flow of refugees from the Horn of Africa, many of whom pass through Mozambique, often on their way to South Africa, Brigety said "Mozambique, like other countries, has the responsibility to protect its borders within the laws of international migration and to provide asylum to refugees under the terms of international agreements. The U.S. government has also the responsibility in working with the countries of the region and also Mozambique in providing asylum to these refugees".